Rangers Record Fantastic Away Result In Spain

Talk about progress, Rangers have went from being dumped out at the first stage of qualifying in Europe last term against minnows from Luxembourg to claiming a fine away draw in the Europa League group stages against La Liga cracks Villarreal.

You’d be forgiven if you thought that the Scottish Premiership side were on to a hiding after they conceded after just forty-five seconds.

Colombian hitman Carlos Bacca lobbed Allan McGregor giving the home team the perfect start.

The Gers struggled to get up to pace against their experienced opponents. Villarreal were technically sound and seemed to keep the ball with ease. The Rangers midfield were often getting overrun and veteran maestro Santi Cazorla was pulling the strings with his wonderful range of passing.

On the lefthand side Spanish Under-21 internationalist Alfonso Pedraza was a constant threat.

As the first half was coming to an end, Rangers started to push further forward and although they weren’t creating chances they were at least venturing into the opposition’s half and starting to keep the ball a bit more.

Left-back Borna Barisic was starting to become a useful outlet as he was usually on hand overlapping on the left flank.

Not for the first time this season, The Light Blues have managed to step it up a gear after a half-time team-talk from gaffer Steven Gerrard.

You could see that they started believing that they could attack El Submarine Amarillo and get some positive results by putting the Spaniards on the back foot.

Centre back Connor Goldson became more composed as the game went on and Bacca became less of a threat, although the Colombian did miss a guilt edged header later on.

Captain James Tavernier was another Gers player that visibly looked better after the break as he started charging forward more.

Then in the sixty-seventh minute Rangers grabbed an equaliser with their first attempt at their opponents goal. Tavernier was at the heart of it as he broke forward and got into the opposing penalty area, he could of had a penalty but advantage was played and Daniel Candeias cut the ball back and midfielder Scott Arfield side footed the ball into the back of the net.

Alas, Villarreal took just two minutes to regain the lead. It was almost as if the La Liga side had woken up due to Arfield’s strike and went out instantly to get back in front. Substitute Moreno Gerard cut inside, leaving Barisic in his wake, and slammed the ball expertly in at near post.

Rangers didn’t give up, a quality that has summed up their term thus far under new boss Gerrard.

Their own substitute, winger Glenn Middleton, was flung on and he made an impressive, immediate impact with his directness, vision and his pace. It was a joy to see a young Scottish winger show no fear and just play to his strengths in an important European tie.

On the seventy-fifth minute, Middleton expertly played in Barisic with a fine pass down the left wing. The fullback’s pace took him away from the Villarreal right-back. His low cross instinctively picked out lone forward Kyle Lafferty, who steered the ball home and sent the away support into dreamland.

The Gers manager was quick to praise Lafferty after the game:

“It’s not a surprise to me he scored tonight, it’s the reason I played him, it’s the reason I bought him and wanted him back here because I know he likes the big stage.”

A special mention for goalie Allan McGregor, who once again produced the goods when it mattered. His terrific save from Ramiro Funes Mori’s volley that was coming at him low and at pace kept Rangers in the game.

Game management has been an issue in the past for Steven Gerrard’s men during this campaign. But in Spain they managed to comeback twice and then hold on and get a vital away point.

It wasn’t a vintage performance and the home side were easier on the eye but Rangers showed courage and didn’t go out and park the bus or wilt under pressure.

Rangers have come along way under their new manager and their European performances have been superb this season!


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