For Jimmy And Walter: Emotional Rangers Reach Europa League Final With Historic Win

Rangers beat RB Leipzig 3-1 on the night to book their place in the final
22:09, 05 May 2022

Rangers are in the Europa League final. I repeat, Rangers are in the Europa League final - after another historic night at Ibrox secured an emotional 3-1 win over RB Leipzig that will go down in the annals of this famous club. 

With ten minutes left on the clock, the tie was perfectly balanced as the German side had fought their way back into the match after a rampant Rangers start saw them take a two goal lead. Then, as the visitors started to get on top, John Lundstram poked home from close range to send Ibrox into ecstasy.

Borussia Dortmund, Braga and now Leipzig have all fallen under the weight of this Ibrox crowd and now, another German club awaits in their fifth European final, as Eintracht Frankfurt saw off ten man West Ham United in the other semi. 

Ibrox had paid a touching tribute to their much-loved kit man Jimmy Bell before kick-off and this was a performance that did the legendary servant, and Walter Smith, justice. It was emotive. It was heroic. It was magical. 

Of course, Rangers don’t have nights like this without their captain making a major contribution and James Tavernier got the hosts off to the perfect start. Glen Kamara fed the energetic Ryan Kent on the left-wing and his cross come shot was turned in from close range by the rampaging right wing-back for his seventh of the campaign. 

Ibrox has been a spine-tingling place so far this season but their second goal took it to a whole new level. It was as if there was an unstoppable blue tide careering towards Leipzig’s goal and they simply could not stop it. 

Kamara turned from creator to finisher as he placed the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, and all of a sudden, Rangers were ahead on aggregate. Joe Aribo should have made it three but fluffed his lines from close range, before being substituted before the break having been knocked unconscious by a free-kick. 

Rangers pressed and harried, as they have for every second of this Europa League run, and the crowd responded to every challenge with immense satisfaction. 

For the first time on the night, RB Leipzig cut apart the home side but Allan McGregor denied them when they were through on goal. However, seconds later, the away side would silence the crowd. Christopher Nkunku, who is coveted by so many of Europe’s top clubs, volleyed in Angelino’s cross to bring the scores level on aggregate. 

The pressure that had mounted on the away side in the first period had switched as the blue half of Glasgow turned into a bag of nerves. It was shaky for a period but somehow, as they always seem to, Rangers fought back. 

A long free-kick was lumped into the Leipzig box and it fell to Kent on the left wing. He dug out a cross that was flapped at by Péter Gulácsi and it dropped to Lundstram, who stuck the ball in with his left foot. Cue absolute mayhem in the stands and on the pitch. 

Rangers had to fight for every ball as Leipzig heaped on the pressure, but they held on. Cue pandemonium at full-time as Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players took the acclaim on one of the club’s most famous nights. Nine years ago they were playing in the Scottish Third Division - now they are playing in the Europa League final.

Walter Smith and Jimmy Bell must be looking down with two big old smiles on their faces. 

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