It’s advantage Malmö FF in the Champions League qualifiers as they overcame HJK Helsinki 2-1 with Rangers lying in wait for the eventual victor.
The Gers drew either the Swedish outfit or their Finnish rivals in the 3rd round of qualifying for the tournament and there were plenty of bluenoses with one eye on this match.
But for those that did indulge in a scouting mission, there was little to worry about with the tie now neatly poised ahead of next week.
Malmo 2-1 HJK 1ST LEG
Give our reaction to the draw on Monday a listen, I'd say by what we discussed, we've actually learned nothing new from either side.
Danger men scored the goals https://t.co/GkZyOnbLRY
— John Walker (@johnwalker_1986) July 22, 2021
1-1 Malmo v Helsinki, the Finns have given them a game, Malmo are better but not significantly.
— Tags (@tagsbo) July 21, 2021
Don’t know if Helsinki are impressive or if Malmo are poor but Helsinki move the ball about very well. Clear they’ve got some technically gifted players
— G (@garryhood1872) July 21, 2021
Absolutely zero fear from Malmö or Helsinki. Skoosh case
— Empire (@EmpireFF) July 21, 2021
Malmö are poor defensively, HJK could still spring a surprise but I’d be very surprised to struggle against either of them.
— j beaford (@beaford_j) July 21, 2021
agreed, only seen the last 20mins and not exactly top notch, total confidence that gaffer and the team will be ready for anything
— Alan Douglas (@ADouglas_1981) July 21, 2021
Swedish outfit Malmö are the clear favourites but HJK Helsinki put up a stern fight and cannot be written off heading into next week’s clash.
With away goals scrapped, it gives Malmö an even greater advantage going into the clash but given that goal on enemy territory it would be unwise to write Helsinki off just yet.
Malmö had taken the lead through Antonio Colak in injury time at the end of the first half before Roope Riski had Helsinki level midway through the second period.
However, with 15 minutes to Anders Christiansen popped up to hand the Swedes the advantage ahead of next week’s crunch clash.
Rangers’ last Champions League excursion ended in defeat to Malmö FF in qualification back in 2011 and it could prove a poetic date with destiny as the club look to secure the £30m+ riches of the group stages.
But whilst there are plenty of fans who never saw enough in either team to truly hurt Rangers, the Ibrox side would be reckless to write both sides off just yet.
Especially when you consider than Malmö are 12 games into their domestic season – and top of the Allsvenskan – whilst it’s a similar story for HJK Helsinki.
This means they already have their motors running for qualification whilst Rangers will have played only once – the Scottish Premiership opener to Livingston – before facing either side.
However, Steven Gerrard’s side has routinely proven itself ready when these qualifiers come around and Rangers fans will await the outcome of this tie when the teams meet again next Wednesday.
Whoever Rangers draw in the next round could be faced with the possibility of facing a full house at Ibrox too amid comments from a leading government advisor.