Europa League Final
Rangers count the cost after heart-breaking loss
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 Rangers 1 (aet)
Eintracht Frankfurt won 5-4 on pens
Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium, Seville
Rangers’ agonising defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties could have serious implications for manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst as he bids to reclaim the league title from Celtic next season.
On a night of drama in Seville, Aaron Ramsey’s miss from the spot handed glory to the Germans and robbed Rangers of automatic qualification for the lucrative group stages of the Champions League.
When the dust has settled on the Spanish showdown – the 19th match of a remarkable Europa League run – the Ibrox board will reassess what plans they have for the new season as they try to wrestle back the league title from their arch rivals.
Rangers, who reported a loss of £23.5 million in their last set of financial results, were in line for a financial windfall of more than £20m had they joined their rivals in the group stages as Europa League winners.
Now, however, van Bronckhorst faces the minefield of negotiating two qualifying rounds to reach that stage, and without the guaranteed financial backing to allow him to strengthen the squad as he would have liked to in the summer.
Ramsey had only been introduced as a late substitute in extra time and his miss was a cruel ending to a match which van Bronckhorst’s men had looked like winning towards the end of a pulsating encounter.
Rangers defied the strength-sapping Spanish heat to push their opponents all the way and appeared set to clinch victory in the closing minutes of extra time when Kemar Roofe sent in a cross which found Ryan Kent racing in to meet it. His shot seemed destined for the back of the net only for Kevin Trapp to pull off a stunning stop with his leg.
The keeper was also to prove the difference in the shoot-out, saving Ramsey’s spot-kick as his team-mates impressively converted all five of their efforts.
Joe Aribo had given Rangers a second-half advantage when he coolly finished past Trapp after 57 minutes but the Germans hit back 12 minutes later when Borre turned home a Kostic cross.
Rangers have little time to dwell on what might have been, though, as the players must shake off the shattering defeat and pick themselves up for Saturday, when they face Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park.
“I’m very disappointed. We were very close,” said Van Bronckhorst, who had been bidding to end Rangers’ 50-year wait for a European trophy.
“It’s for us to look ahead now, it feels difficult but we have to. We need to make sure we’re ready on Saturday. I said to the players we came so far, we deserved it, I’m very proud of them.
“The emotions are down but we have to change it quickly. We have to start all over again. We’re going to work hard and develop as a team.”
Midfielder Steven Davis said: “We left everything out on the pitch. It’s going to be a sore one to take. We know how difficult it will be to get to this stage again.”
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic (Roofe, 117), Lundstram, Jack (Davis, 74), Kamara (Arfield 91), Wright (Sakala, 74 (Ramsey, 117) ), Aribo (Sands, 101), Kent.
Goals: Rangers: Aribo (57); Eintracht Frankfurt: Borre (69).