Rangers pundits puzzled by Joe Aribo switch as Fashion Sakala central role queried after late heartache


Without a striker and looking for makeshift options, Rangers weren’t spoiled for striker choices on their big European night – but what they did go for has raised eyebrows.

The Premiership champions are down but certainly not out of their Europa League semi-final with RB Leipzig after a 1-0 first leg defeat.

The Light Blues took a massive travelling support with them and it looked like they would earn a stalemate in Germany ahead of the return in Ibrox next week.

But Angelino’s stunning volley five minutes from time put paid to those plans to leave Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men chasing the tie.

But with a raucous Ibrox to come back to in the second leg, Rangers will believe they can overturn the slim deficit.

A trip to Seville and a first European final since their UEFA Cup showpiece in 2008 is the prize for them if they prevail against Germany’s new heavyweight.

They’ll need to remain compact in defence for that to happen and sharpen up in attack – despite strikers Alfredo Morelos and potentially Kemar Roofe being absent – to breach Leipzig’s defence.

Here’s how the pundits reacted to proceedings at the Red Bull Arena.

Alan Hutton

Van Bronckhorst started with Scott Wright and Ryan Kent in his forward line with what looked like a 5-3-2, before Joe Aribo proved more effective as a false nine in the second half.

Fashion Sakala – whose headed clearance from a corner was spectacularly volleyed home – came off the bench to take over in that role and former Ibrox right-back Hutton, speaking on BT Sport, was perplexed as to why.

He said: “We praised the manager before about being tactically aware. We are sitting watching it thinking ‘it’s working.’

“The second half was much better. So why did he change it? Sakala is a different profile of player, and it wasn’t really working.

“Aribo was getting on the ball and affecting the game. That’s the position he says he likes and things were happening.

“Sakala gives you something in behind, that threat, especially coming from wide. But that central figure, you need someone to hold the ball. I don’t think he gives you that.”

Kenny Miller

Having overturned a first leg defeat in the quarter-finals against Braga, Rangers will fancy their chances of doing so again.

And former striker Miller agreed with his fellow BT pundit that Aribo was a difference-maker – but it’s not a terrible result for the Premiership champions.

The interim Falkirk boss explained: “It’s not a disaster.

“It was a wonder goal as well from Angelino to win the game.

“Aribo through the middle was working really well. That’s why at the start of the game we thought he would play there.

“He gives you more of a target. Technically, he’s very good and he uses his body well.

“He brings other players closer. He gets Rangers closer to the final third and he did that in the second half.”



Joe Aribo of Rangers is challenged

Ally McCoist

Ibrox icon Ally McCoist was impressed by how Rangers came alive in the second half and it took what was, in his opinion a stunner to defeat them in Germany.

Now a mouth-watering second leg on home soil awaits.

He added: “Rangers were massively improved in the second half.

“But it was a brilliant strike from Angelino, it really was. Great volley from him but Ryan Jack was maybe ball-watching.

“Perhaps they should have got tighter. In saying that, sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you’ve been beaten by a great goal. The technique was wonderful.

“It’s going to be some second leg. I can’t wait.”





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