Rangers dig deep to close in on a place in last 16
Win: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group).
Round of 32, 1st leg
Royal Antwerp 3 Rangers 4
The Rangers European bandwagon rolls on with Steven Gerrard’s side in pole position to make the last 16 after a pulsating victory.
The visitors edged a seven-goal thriller to continue their remarkable run of results in the Europa League and will now look to finish the job at Ibrox next Thursday.
The Scottish league leaders produced another gutsy display to snatch a dramatic late victory with Borna Barisic slotting home a 90th-minute penalty after Abdoulaye Seck was sent off for a second yellow for handball in the area.
Much of the pre-match build-up had been dominated by talk of the five Rangers players who broke coronavirus rules.
The Light Blues, though, showed they are immune to setbacks. They twice fought back from falling a goal behind, their never-say-die attitude too much in the end for the Belgians, who stunned Rangers by netting twice in first-half stoppage time to lead 2-1.
Speaking to BT Sport, Gerrard said: “I’m waiting on my heart rate to come down. From a manager’s point of view there’s a lot to analyse.
“Defensively, we weren’t at our best. But it’s very difficult to win away from home in Europe. The experience of Scottish teams in Europe tells me that so I’ve got to give credit to the boys.”
Midfielder Steven Davis added: “First half we didn’t feel quite at it but I felt we improved in the second half and exploited the spaces that were there.
“The most important thing was the reaction to the goals, credit to the boys for coming back into the game. I thought our attitude tonight was brilliant and we’ve got a good result to take back to Ibrox now.”
Gerrard is hoping the win hasn’t come at a cost, with James Tavernier (knee) and Kemar Roofe (calf) both going off injured in the first half.
“Kemar’s got another calf injury which is a concern for us,he’s getting too many of them at the moment so we might get someone to look at that in particular,” he said.
“James never comes off the pitch if he doesn’t have to so that is a concern.”
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier (Balogun, 25) Helander, Goldson, Barisic, Arfield, Davis, Kamara, Roofe (Kent, 45), Morelos, Aribo.
Goals: Antwerp: Avenatti (45+1), Refaelov (45+8), Hongla (66); Rangers: Aribo (38), Barisic (pen 59, pen 90), Kent (83).