Two goals in the last seven minutes resulted in a victory for the Rangers in the epic role of 32 in the Europa League against Royal Antwerp in Belgium.
Steven Gerrard’s side took the lead, then drew twice, in the first leg of a draw, before Borna Barisic’s side snatched a second penalty kick two minutes before the remaining time.
Joe Arribo and Ryan Kent also scored a goal for the Scottish Premier League leaders, but injuries to James Tavernier and Kimar Rove dampened the joy ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at Ibrox.
However, the dramatic late victory leaves the Rangers well positioned to reach the last 16 of the European League for the second consecutive season and maintain Gerrard’s impressive European record.
It is a sign of where the Rangers have now reached that they have arrived in Belgium with little fear, with only Bayer Leverkusen and Young Boys having beaten them in 27 previous European matches.
They were in the lead early, and may have received a penalty in the first minutes for a handball, but the match continued amid the VAR check-up.
Tavernier tried to continue after an early injury, but the Rangers captain fell twice to the lawn before being substituted midway through the half. Rove would limp later before break.
Before leaving, Rove stole into the penalty area but was unable to clear a shot on goal, then Alfredo Morelos overcame the offside trap and forced the goalkeeper to block from close range.
In the end, the positive play of Rangers was rewarded at the top. Rove chased a long ball and forced the defender to hit it again for goalkeeper Alireza Piranvand, but it spilled and Morelos directed the ball to Arribo, who shot it outside the penalty area.
Rangers have only conceded four goals in their last 12 games. Now the challenge is set in Antwerp. Within minutes, they released their response when Felipe Avenatti struck a free kick bypassing Allan MacGregor.
Seconds before halftime, Rangers received a penalty kick. Lior Raphaelov threw himself on the ground after Stephen Davis gently cut the back of his foot, before picking himself up to score.
That was exciting enough, but the frantic second half was to come.
Richie DeLite pulled Morelos’ shirt, and after the Bulgarian referee advised that the incident be examined on the pitch screen, Rangers fired a penalty kick on his own.
Barisic scored, but again, when the Rangers took the lead, they were punched hard in the back. Martin Hongla tried his luck from a distance, shooting the ball into the visitors’ back net.
The Rangers are back, and it probably should have been the draw when Ianis Hagee crossed near the post. But they kept pressing, and Kent took the ball past the defender’s goal and hit it in a fine finish to equalize seven minutes before play.
Both sides had chances to win. Substitute goalkeeper Ortwin de Wolff extended his leg to deprive Kent, then MacGregor did the same at the other end before Ryan Jack crossed the line.
Then was the second penalty kick after Abdullah Seck dealt with Kent’s shot, as he received a red card for his problems. Barisic took a deep breath and yelled at two in the night as time ran out.
Until then, the action was not over, as Koji Miyoshi hit a late bid from the post for the host. But the Rangers survived for a win that should take them a long way towards a place in the Round of 16.
Man of the Match – Alfredo Morelos
what did we learn?
Many aspects of Rangers’ performance were positive. They took a series of blows with early injuries and a controversial penalty kick that left them behind, but they rebounded to the level. Even when they were late again, they still looked like the better team.
The advance and the four extraterrestrial goals give them a huge advantage now in their quest to reach the last 16.
- Rangers have lost only one of their past 40 matches in all competitions (W33 D6), with that only defeat against Saint Mirren in the League Cup in December.
- The three goals they conceded were the most goals in 11 previous matches combined in all competitions.
- Since the start of last season, Morelos (12) has participated directly in scoring goals in the European League for Rangers compared to Barisic (9-2 goals, 7 assists).
- It was the highest-recorded European match that Antwerp has participated in since September 1994, when they lost 5-2 in Newcastle in the UEFA Cup.
Rangers host Dundee United on Sunday (15:00 GMT) as they continue their campaign in the Scottish Premier League before welcoming Antwerp to Ibrox four days later (18:00).
Formation – composition 3-5-1-1
- 1Piranvand TravelReplaced withDee Wolfat 77 ‘Session minutes
- 4SeckBooked in 88 minutes
- 31The merchant
- 2The LaetBooked in 58 minutes
- 30Julia Botta
- 16JerkinsReplaced withMiyoshiat 90 + 2 ‘Session minutes
- 18HonglaBooked in 88 minutesReplaced withwifeat 90 + 1 ‘Session minutes
- 15thdrawReplaced withFirst Streetat 69 ‘Session minutes
- 94J Lukaku
- 11RaphaelovReplaced withAmpoumaat 90 + 2 ‘Session minutes
- 5First Street
- 63Van den Bosch
- 97Dee Wolf
Formation – composition 4-3-3
- 2TavernierReplaced withBalogunat 24 ‘Session minutes
- 31ParisicBooked in 44 minutes
- 37WarfieldBooked in 64 minutesReplaced withJackat 74 ‘Session minutes
- 18roomReplaced withHajiat 74 ‘Session minutes
- 25RoofReplaced withKentat 45 + 5 ‘Session minutesBooked in 53 minutes
- 23I have seen
The match ended, Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4.
The end of the second half, Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4.
Corner Rangers. Against him is Nana Umpumah.
Leon Balogun (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Wrong for Jordan Lukaku (Royal Antwerp).
Borna Barisic (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Wrong for Aurelio Botta (Royal Antwerp).
Koji Miyoshi (Royal Antwerp) strikes the right post with a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area.
Wrong by Philip Helander (Rangers).
Felipe Avenatti (Royal Antwerp) wins a free kick in the offensive game.
Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Koji Miyoshi replaces Peter Jerkins.
Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Nana Ambumah replaces Lior Raphaelov.
Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Jeremy Gillin replaces Martin Hongla.
Goal! Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4. Burna Barisic (Rangers) turns a penalty kick with a left foot shot into the upper right corner.
A yellow card was shown for Martin Hongla (Royal Antwerp).
The second yellow card for Abdullah Seck (Royal Antwerp) for a hand pass.
A penalty kick received by Abdullah Seck (Royal Antwerp), by handball, inside the penalty area.
Attempt is prohibited. Ryan Kent (Rangers) shoots with his right foot from the center of the penalty area. With the help of Alfredo Morelos.
Attempt is prohibited. Richie De Lati’s (Royal Antwerp) shot was blocked with the right foot from very close range.
Your attempt has been saved. Abdullah Seck (Royal Antwerp) is saved header from the right side of the six-yard square in the center of the goal. With the help of Lior Raphaelov.