With Europa League progression secured once again with a 2-1 aggregate win over Osijek, we take a look at the last time Rangers met Maribor – their third qualifying round opponents.

Maribor have knocked out several Scottish Premiership over the last several years, but how did Rangers fare when drawn with the Slovenians back seven years ago?

MARIBOR 2-1 RANGERS (18th August 2011)

Rangers came into this Europa League playoff round back in 2011 having just been knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Malmo of Sweden.

It was Ally McCoist’s first-season in charge, and a host of new faces such as Carlos Bocanegra, Juanma Ortiz, and Dorin Goian were all still finding their feet with the then Scottish Premier League champions.

A trip to Slovenian outfit Maribor didn’t appear too treacherous on paper, and Rangers controlled the first half-hour with relative ease away from home.

That dominance then paid off with an Ortiz strike after 31 minutes – consolidating the Gers’ strong start.

Ally McCoist gives out instructions to his Rangers players against Maribor (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

However, a tremendous second half performance by Maribor showed why there was always a potential banana skin about the tie. Agim Ibraimi rattled a low shot past Allan McGregor just seven minutes into the second half,.

McGregor then proceeded to do what McGregor does, and keep Rangers in the game with a string of fine stops as McCoist’s men threatened to collapse in the final half hour.

Maribor knew they had to take a lead to Ibrox, and that pressure paid off when Dejan Mezga jinked past the static Rangers defence to slot home a winner and make it advantage Maribor heading into the second leg.

Rangers would’ve wondered how that match got away from them, but would’ve strongly fancied their chances in the second leg.

RANGERS 1-1 MARIBOR (2-3 on aggregate) (25th August 2011)

If the first leg turned into a containment job, this was anything but, as Rangers laid siege to the Maribor goal without finding their rewards.

Nikica Jelavic, Maurice Edu, and Kyle Lafferty all conspired to miss huge first-half chances, with an impressive Steven Davis pulling the strings in midfield.

Maribor looked uncomfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings of a hostile Ibrox, and it led to their defence being extremely nervous and hesitant when clearing their lines.

Jelavic would continue to frustrate with a host of poor headers, but Rangers were in control heading into the break and would’ve been confident of grabbing the goal that would see them progress to the group stages.

However, just like in the first leg, Rangers let their guard down and allowed Maribor to score a priceless away goal on 55 minutes. Mezga, who scored the winning goal in Slovenia, set up Dalibor Volas to finish sweetly from the edge of the box.

Maribor celebrate after taking the lead at Ibrox (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Rangers’ new recruits struggled to get them on the front foot and provide the required inspiration, but did get a glimmer of light when Bocanegra managed to turn home an effort for a corner to set up a grandstand final 15 minutes.

With new owner Craig Whyte in the stands, Rangers piled the pressure on late on as Jasmin Handanovic decided to have the best period of his life – denying David Healy, Greg Wylde, and ultimately clawing Lafferty’s goal-bound header off the line late on.

In the end, Rangers would bow out of European competition, but created more than enough opportunities to win several Europa League ties.

A similarly close tie could be in store over the next couple of week, but a more clinical Rangers will be required to see it through.

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