Rangers’ UEFA Youth League campaign is over after they were defeated 1-0 by Sevilla in a playoff tie.
The Young Gers were in the feisty contest throughout but a scrappy goal from impressive opposition no.10 Carlos Alvarez in the 50th minute was enough to secure progress for the visitors.
The Spanish club played the final 13 minutes with ten men after a minor but blatant headbutt on Alex Lowry by Marcelo Exposito, but the hosts weren’t able to take advantage in very tough conditions.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Dire pitch made things difficult
Rangers did well to make it to this stage, knocking out the youth champions of Sweden and Bulgaria, and this was a big game against a top European club.
Therefore, the players deserved a much better surface than the one they got at Dumbarton.
It’s a little embarrassing that Rangers’ ‘home’ surface for a big youth tie shown live on BT Sport looked more like a ploughed field than a football pitch.
It would have been more of a shock for Sevilla’s players than for those in blue, but David McCallum has plenty of technical players in his squad and the pitch significantly hindered them too.
All this came after Friday night’s Lowland League fixture against Dalbeattie Star had to be postponed due to an ‘issue’ with the same pitch.
It’s a difficult situation, particularly at this time of year, but Rangers have to find a way of guaranteeing better for their emerging players.
Rangers must improve on set pieces
Rangers expected a serious test of their defensive resolve from Sevilla but the pitch conditions ensured that flowing attacking football wasn’t possible.
The visitors did cause all sorts of problems from set pieces, though, which is surprising given that the Young Gers have been playing physical men’s football all season in the Lowland League.
A strong wing was a factor but the hosts struggled to mark opposition players effectively and Sevilla could have won the game much more convincingly had they taken some of the relatively clear chances that came their way from corners.
Conversely, Rangers didn’t manage to put their opponents under pressure from their own set pieces, wasting several opportunities to do so.
Alex Lowry the standout for Gers
While the pitch certainly didn’t aid his style of play and he didn’t always make the right decisions, Lowry was predictably a standout for Rangers on the ball.
The 18-year-old, who recently made his breakthrough at first-team level, has the ability to beat players with ease and grace, as he demonstrated on a number of occasions in the second half in particular.
He flashed a decent chance from the edge of the box just wide of the top right corner in the closing stages and wasn’t quite able to drag his teammates to penalties.
Match-winner Alvarez was the standout for the visitors and is a player to watch out for in the years to come.