Ibrox Awaits: Rangers Face A Huge Second Leg After 2-0 Defeat To Union SG

All eyes turn to Ibrox in a week's time
21:39, 02 Aug 2022

Rangers have got it all to do at Ibrox in a week’s time after losing 2-0 in their Champions League third qualifying round tie away at Union Saint-Gilloise. After a promising start at Stade Joseph Marien, the Glasgow side found themselves outplayed for two-thirds of this European clash. Rangers face a steep climb in front of their own fans if they hope to play in Europe’s elite competition this season.

Rangers looked lively in the early going, particularly whenever new boy Malik Tillman had the ball. The Bayern Munich loanee was making his first start for the club, and looks to have a bright future ahead. The winger called the Union defence into action early with a low cross, before sending Anthony Moris diving after a solid strike from the right hand side. Tillman crossed flanks with fellow new signing Rabbi Matondo, stretching the Union defence.

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Borna Barisic drew another good save from Luxembourg international Moris with a left-footed free kick, while James Sand forced another save from distance. It was a good start from last year’s Europa League finalists, but the tide would turn,

Union got their first big chance when Barisic was caught out by Lazare Amani. The midfielder had the Rangers defence backing off before John Lundstram came to the rescue with a timely challenge. 

The danger did not pass though, as the Belgian runners-up kept the pressure on. Lundstram was caught too high up but Dante Vanzeir could not direct his header on target from the resulting cross. These harbingers of doom eventually bore fruit when a slick passing move in the Rangers penalty area ended with a firm finish from Teddy Teuma. The half-time whistle arrived at the right time to settle Glasweigian nerves.

The second half saw Union drop deeper but they remained dangerous. There were attempts on the counter, particularly a series of long balls to Vanzeir. One saw him cross well for Senne Lynen, who could not get his header past Lundstram. Slack play from Ryan Jack saw a shot fly just wide of Jon McLaughlin’s post as the hosts pressed their advantage.

The introductions of Ridvan Yilmaz and Ben Davies in place of Barisic and Jack saw a shift in shape to a back four. The tactical tweak from manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst saw Rangers finally enjoy meaningful possession in Union territory, something they had lacked in the second half. They were still fallible at the back though, when a break saw Amani, Vanzeir and Teuma queue up to have shots.

Disaster struck when a very harsh handball was given against Connor Goldson. The Rangers man found himself booked when the ball had merely ricocheted up after a point-blank strike had hit a teammate. It was a very questionable call, but one that had a major impact as Vanzeir slotted home his penalty to double Union’s lead.

Scott Wright and Tom Lawrence were introduced in place of Tillman and Matondo, the former of whose influence waned considerably after a lively first 20 minutes. But goalkeeper McLaughlin was perhaps the most impactful Rangers player late on, saving brilliantly when the brilliant Vanzeir went clean through.

Rangers face an uphill battle, but at least they’ll be fighting it at home. The always-atmospheric Ibrox will need every ounce of noise if The Gers are going to be playing Champions League football this season. It might seem like a tough ask, but we learned last season that this Rangers side is capable of the odd continental miracle.

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