Roofe wonder goal lifts Rangers as Celts suffer
Standard Liege 0 Rangers 2
Stade Maurice Dufrasne
Celtic 1 AC Milan 3
Kemar Roofe’s stunning goal from the half-way line for Rangers was the big talking point on a night of mixed fortunes for Scotland’s Europa League hopefuls.
While Steven Gerrard’s side recorded another impressive result, this time on Belgian soil, Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon saw his side open their campaign with a disappointing home defeat.
Liege had not lost a game at home in Europe since 2014 but were undone by another terrific display by the Gers, who have now won 19 out of 36 European games under Gerrard.
The home side clearly didn’t take kindly to having their record ruined, with both teams involved in a fracas at the tunnel at full-time with players from both sides squaring up to each other.
James Tavernier broke the deadlock from the spot after 19 minutes and Roofe clinched the victory with a remarkable effort from 54 yards, his rocket shot catching Arnaud Bodart off his line. According to OPTA stats, it’s the furthest distance ever for a goal scored in the Europa League.
“The goal was a moment of genius,” Gerrard said. “I’ve been playing football professionally since 1998 and it’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live with my own eyes.
“He collects the ball 15 yards outside our box, he’s strong for two challenges, holds a player off for the third and takes the same player on in the worst conditions I’ve seen.
“And to have the vision, the power and the class to score from 55 yards, I don’t think I’ve seen a better goal and I don’t think I will.”
The win saw Rangers build on their Old Firm victory at Parkhead last weekend and saw them chalk up a 12th clean sheet in 15 games this season.
In the other game in Group D, Benfica defeated Lech Poznan 4-2 in Poland.
Celtic, meanwhile, continued their stuttering start to the season with defeat in Glasgow.
Italian job: Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped AC Milan overcome Celtic (pic: SNS Group)
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, substitute Elyounoussi gave them hope with 14 minutes to go but as the hosts chased the game in a bid to rescue a point, the visitors stretched their advantage in the closing moments.
“I thought we deserved something out of the game against a very good team,” said Lennon. “We were more like ourselves in the second half, but we just lacked the cutting edge.
“We started the game quite brightly, but we gave away two soft goals.”
Elsewhere in Group H, Sparta Prague went down 4-1 at home to Lille.