5 talking points as Rangers go down to late Leipzig sickener as mammoth Ibrox return set up in Europa League final quest


It was going to take something special to beat a Rangers defence that defended so strongly in the RB Arena.

And in the end that’s exactly what happened as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men went down to a stunning strike.

Having held out for 85 minutes it was a spectacular volley from Angelino which earned the Bundesliga side a narrow Europa League semi final first leg lead.

It was a sickener for the Ibrox side who looked set for a vital goalless draw but it’s still all to play for in Glasgow in the return as they look to overturn the same deficit from their quarter final against Braga.

Van Bronckhorst’s big call was in attack and Fashion Sakala missed out on the XI despite being the only fit recognised striker.

The Dutchman put his faith in Scott Wright for a starting slot after his lively display against Motherwell at the weekend.

Many predicted Rangers would go without a proper frontman and instead play with a ‘false nine’ but it was the opposite as they went with Wright and Ryan Kent up top.

And John Lundstram dropped back into a five-man rearguard with the Germans on the front foot right from the off.

Rangers looked nervy with Borna Barisic fortunate to get away with misjudging a clearance that led to a chance for Christopher Nkunku but the Frenchman fluffed his effort.

The home side dominated possession but without causing the Light Blues defence any serious problems.

Rangers’ trouble was that they struggled to offer any kind of attacking threat themselves with Wright and Kent suffering from a lack of quality service.

However, the big positive is that they went in goalless at the break knowing they could only offer more in the second 45 minutes.

And within a couple of minutes of the restart they showed that intent when Joe Aribo released Kent down the left and he pulled his shot just wide with James Tavernier also inches away from a tap in at the back post.



Rangers Ryan Kent has a chance to put his side ahead

Aribo played more advanced in the second half and in setting up that attack it looked more promising with Nkunku stinging the palms of Allan McGregor at the other end.

Rangers were so much more adventurous and the frustration in the home side was evident from the stands to the pitch.

Fashion Sakala was thrown on with just over 20 minutes left before the visitors had a huge let off.

Nkunku – a player who has been so prolific in the Bundesliga – missed a golden chance to open the scoring.

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He did brilliantly to create space for himself, rounded McGregor but with the goal at his mercy somehow fired wide of the target.

McGregor then was forced into a brilliant save as he touched a Tyler Adams effort over.

And from that resulting corner they conceded as it was headed out to Angelino and the former Manchester City man volleyed into the net.

Here’s 5 talking points from RB Arena…

Defensive discipline undone late on

Rangers’ run to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 was built on a solid rearguard with Lionel Messi famously describing it as “anti-football”.

It might not have been pleasing on the eye but it was certainly effective and there were shades of this here up until the late goal.

Waltenaccio is how the style was jokingly described as Walter Smith’s men were solid at the back on their run to Manchester.



Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

Van Bronckhorst even had his Smith-style short sleeve cardigan on that the late legendary boss often wore.

But John Lundstram dropping back to help out in defence gave Gers a real solidity about the backline and it worked for long spells.

Have A Go Joe

It was clear that Rangers had a problem in the central striking area with both Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe missing.

Ryan Kent and Scott Wright started up top in a two-pronged attack but it didn’t suit the natural wingers.

Yet within minutes of the restart Joe Aribo looked much more dangerous in that position as he played in a more central attacking role.

The Nigeria international had the intelligence to trouble the German defence and was a better option and strangely shifted to accommodate Fashion Sakala when the Zambian came on.

French Chris miss

All the talk before the game was of RB Leipzig’s danger man Christopher Nkunku with his 30 goals in 46 games this season.

And he really should have added to that tally when he had the goal at his mercy but he somehow blazed his effort off target.




The French international has been linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs this season, including Liverpool and Manchester United.

But he squandered that big opportunity and fluffed a very early chance as he struggled to show why there has ben so much hype around him.

The former PSG man is still an outstanding talent and will have to be watched again at Ibrox but he cut a frustrated figure here with Allan McGregor beating away a ferocious shot from him.

Wright call wrong

Giovanni van Bronckhorst had a tough task in deciding what to do with limited attacking options.

With no Alfredo Morelos or Kemar Roofe then he was always going to struggle to come up with a solution.

Fashion Sakala was the obvious one as the only fit recognised striker but the Zambian was left on the bench.

The Rangers boss put huge trust in Scott Wright with the Aberdeen man struggling to make any real impact since his move to Ibrox.

It was a tough task for both him and Ryan Kent as two natural wide men and Wright just short on the quality needed as they needed an out-ball.

He switched back out to the right after the restart but was careless in possession for the visitors and no surprise when he was subbed with 20 minutes left.

Red-hot in the RB Arena

Their fuel was probably the local lager rather than the energy drinks giant who sponsor the Bundesliga side.

But whatever they used to soften their throats it certainly helped the Rangers fans’ singing voices in Saxony.



Rangers fans show their support prior to the UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One match between RB Leipzig and Rangers

They travelled in their thousands and gathered throughout the day with many more than the 2000 official tickets allocated to the Ibrox side.

Gers fans were in the neutral end and dotted around the home end and certainly made themselves heard as they chanted from first whistle until last in what was a brilliant atmosphere.





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