Invincibility Destroyed: Why PSV Fans Consider Rangers As Rivals

A famous result in 1978 is at the heart of the rivalry
17:00, 21 Aug 2023

For the second year running Rangers and PSV will meet in the Champions League play-offs with a place in the group stage at stake. The first leg takes place at Ibrox on Tuesday evening and the fans are looking forward to it more than you might initially realise.

On the face of it you wouldn’t think there is a distinct connection between these two clubs but just ask either fan base and you will find out there is a lot of hostility between them. Why? It all goes back to 1978 when the two sides met for the first time in the second round of the then-European Cup, the season after PSV had won the Uefa Cup.

After a goalless draw at Ibrox in the first leg, Rangers headed to the Philips Sportpark, as it was then known, for the second leg to face a PSV side who had never been beaten at home in European competition, scoring 84 goals to seven in 30 such fixtures. You see where this is going, right?


This record made PSV a formidable force on the European stage, so when of course Rangers came to town and put an end to it, the Dutch side were quite bitter. It was a cracking game of football which went back and forth. PSV, boasting the legendary Van de Kerkhof twins amongst other stars, were ahead in the first minute and Rangers equalised in the second half only for the hosts to regain their lead moments later.

The Gers pulled off another leveller minutes later and set up an exciting finish in the Netherlands. Minutes from full-time, midfielder Bobby Russell scored what is to many considered the best goal Rangers have scored in Europe, winning the tie as a result.

It was a nicely worked team goal finished off brilliantly by Russell, who coolly curled his shot past the onrushing Ton van Engelen, to send the 1,000 travelling Gers fans wild. It was immediately hailed as one of the best performances from a Scottish side in Europe.

From that day a rivalry was born, heavily pushed from PSV’s side, so whenever these two sides meet there is extra desire from both sets of fans to get one over on their opponents. Rangers wound up the Dutch club once again in 1999-2000 when the two teams were drawn in Group F of the Champions League.

The first meeting was fittingly in Eindhoven, with Rangers emerging victorious for a second time. Substitute Jorg Albertz’s 80th-minute winner further stoked the fire of this growing rivalry, and Rangers then rubbed salt in the wound at Ibrox in the following match as they comfortably dispatched PSV 4-1 at Ibrox.

The Rood-witten had to then wait another 23 years for a shot at knocking Rangers off their perch as they squared up in the Champions League play-off last term. Defender Armando Obispo was able to seal a 2-2 draw for his side at Ibrox in the first leg but once again PSV failed to make their home advantage count in the second as Antonio Colak fired Rangers into their first group stage campaign for 12 years.

Dutch midfielder Joey Veerman, who played in that defeat, hasn’t hidden his dislike of Rangers, having described that defeat as the worst moment of the season last December. He even described Rangers as mediocre… want some chips with that salt?

The 24-year-old and his teammates have got another opportunity to land a blow on a club which has inflicted so much pain on them over the years, but of course history is on the side of Rangers. And as fate would have it, Philips Stadion is the setting for the second leg once again. Can they break their duck against a side they have held a strong grudge against since 1978?

It’s clear that this rivalry means more to PSV but Rangers have enjoyed their encounters with the Dutch side and will love the fact that they remain unbeaten against them. They will certainly want this to continue in this year’s play-offs with another group stage spot at stake. Expect another two legs of drama in the latest chapter of this quirky rivalry.

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