Gerrard: UEFA must do more in fight against racism
Chants: Kamara (pic: SNS Group).
Sparta Prague 1 Rangers 0
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has urged UEFA to do more in the fight against racism.
The Ibrox boss spoke out after Glen Kamara was booed by home fans during the Group A clash in Prague.
The game was marred by the treatment of the Finn, with UEFA set to probe the behaviour of the crowd which was made up mostly of 10,000 schoolchildren.
The youngsters were allowed to attend after a UEFA U-turn on a stadium closure following racist chanting by the team’s supporters towards Aurelien Tchouameni of Monaco.
Kamara, who was racially abused last season by Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela, was later sent off after two yellow cards.
Gerrard said he was unaware at the chants directed towards Kamara during the game but added: “If they were targeting Glen, then it’s extremely disappointing.
“The reason there were a lot of kids in the stadium in the first place was because of a previous similar incident. So, of course, it’s extremely disappointing if that was happening. There needs to be more done.
“Everyone across the world is asking for bigger and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated. But until the powers that be do more and treat it more seriously, we’re going to be dealing with these questions for a long time.”
Gerrard’s side had their moments in Prague but struggled to exert much influence on the game and sit rooted to the foot of Group A with zero points.
David Hancko’s first-half header was enough to clinch victory for the home side, who would have won by a wider margin had it not been for some fine goalkeeping by Allan McGregor.
“I’m disappointed with the scoreline, obviously. I’m disappointed with the start we’ve got off to in the group, losing two games is not ideal,” said Gerrard.
“I think the next game is a must win now. We have to win the next game at home to Brondby to give ourselves an outside chance.”
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Balogun, Bassey, Barisic, Kamara, Davis, Bacuna, Aribo, Roofe, Sakala. Substitutes: McLaughlin, McCrorie, Hagi, Lundstram, Patterson, Morelos, Wright, Kelly, Arfield, McClelland.
Goals: Sparta Prague – Hancko (29).
Dejected: Celtic players trudge off (pic: SNS Group).
Celtic 0 Bayer Leverkusen 4
Celtic’s deficiencies at the top level were again cruelly exposed by a clinical Leverkusen team.
The Hoops could easily have been ahead before conceding a sloppy opening goal after a rousing opening 25 minutes. A second ten minutes later left them with a mountain to climb.
Ange Postecoglou’s style of play is built on high-tempo attack but it’s his team’s inability to keep the ball out of their own net which is setting alarm bells ringing around Parkhead.
The visitors netted another two after the break, meaning Celtic have conceded eight goals in their opening two group matches, prompting questions as to whether the manager has the quality of players required to play the system he wants.
A crumb of comfort for the Celtic boss is that Leverkusen’s keeper Lukas Hradecky was named man of the match after producing a string of excellent stops at various stages of the game. But as the home side found to its cost, failing to take chances can prove fatal, especially against a team sitting second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich.
“It shouldn’t have been a 4-0 game. We’ve got to be a stronger mentality towards the end of the game. Losing a fourth goal was completely unnecessary,” said Postecoglou.
“We had some great chances and the story was in both boxes. They were clinical, we were wasteful. We made some mistakes that you can’t make at this level.
“We’ve got to keep persevering. We’ve had a number of injuries, we’ve had to rebuild the squad, it’s not surprising it’s taking time. But, within all that, it should be better.”
Celtic: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Montgomery, Turnbull, McGregor, Abada, Rogic, Jota, Furuhashi. Substitutes: Giakoumakis, Scales, Barkas, Bitton, Ajeti, Soro, McCarthy, Urhoghide, Bain, Shaw, Welsh.
Goals: Bayer Leverkusen: Hincapie (25), Wirtz (35), Alario (pen, 58), Adii (94).