Yesterday, Rangers sent their fans home with a renewed optimism after a credible 1-1 draw against Marseille. The match was the first chance for most to see many of the new signings, and it helped dispel a lot of doubts about the standard of player we now have at the club.

The starting line-up had us in a 4-4-2, with a more conventional shape in midfield. Kranjcar and Candeias were asked to play the wider roles. Miller started next to Herrera up top, and Alves wore our (extremely oversized in his case) shirt for the first time.

Any fears of the game being a kickabout were dispelled pretty quickly. Dorrans took a heavy touch in midfield which led to a heavy challenge on Evra. Only 5 minutes into the game, he was booked and Marseille knew we were taking it seriously.

The work rate of the Rangers team was very high. Players like Herrera and Candeias were hassling mistakes out of Marseille players constantly. Even Kranjcar was pressing the game high up the pitch. Alves and Cardoso looked pretty comfortable at the back. Both teams, however, struggled to get in behind the other, and set pieces were being defended well. Efforts from distance from both sides weren’t hitting the target.

On 27 minutes, Candeias won a free kick well on the right just outside the box. Dorrans played it in well, but Cardoso was pressured into a weak header. It was one of those chances we all wished Bruno Alves was on the end of.

After that, there wasn’t much in the first half in terms of goal attempts. We had some good link-up play, especially on the right, but Marseille defended their box very well. What was very encouraging was how well we were playing from back to front, and the attacking intent throughout. This was a game many thought we’d lose heavily, yet we were the better team in the first half.

The second half started in much the same fashion. Some shots from distance didn’t trouble the keepers. Marseille looked more purposeful, but they weren’t troubling our defence.

As is always the way in friendlies, though, the subs started to disrupt the flow of the game. Wilson and Morelos came on for Alves and Herrera, and we looked a bit less composed defensively after that. Despite this, the best chance of the match fell to Morelos on 60 minutes.

Picking up a very loose pass across the Marseille defence, he drove forward and hit a shot from 25 yards. Mandanda parried it out, and the centre half tried to take a touch which Morelos won back. From around 12 yards, under pressure from both defender and keeper, Morelos dragged his shot wide of the far post. It was a great chance, one he’d made all through his own hard work.

And we got punished for that just 2 minutes later. Tavernier had driven forward but had a cross taken by Mandanda, so Candeias filled in at right back. For the first time in the game, a runner from midfield found good space in the lines between our defence and midfield, and it allowed him to cross a dangerous ball to the back post from our right where Valere Germain met the ball and scored through Foderingham’s legs. The only time in the game our defence really got turned, and they scored from it.

I think most of the stadium expected the game to be one-sided from there, but we reacted really well and kept the pressure up. A through ball from Kranjcar to Candeias was unlucky not to get more reward, and crosses were defended well. On the 75th minute, a lovely touch from Kranjcar from a ball inside resulted in him being fouled, and he got up to take the free kick.

And it was a beauty. Curled from 25 yards into the top corner, and the team celebrated it like you’d expect in a normal game. It was a deserved reward for the team performance. Kranjcar was subbed straight away, and the fans got a chance to see Pena in action.

Sadly, by this point, the game was starting to fade out. Marseille had a couple of decent shots saved by Foderingham, but there wasn’t much else aside.

My man of the match was James Tavernier, who played excellently at right back against Payet and was still one of our main attacking outlets.


Foderingham; Tavernier, Cardoso, Alves (Wilson, 57), Wallace; Candeias (Dalcio, 85), Jack, Dorrans (Holt, 85), Kranjcar (Pena, 76); Miller (Windass, 76), Herrera (Morelos, 57).

SUBS NOT USED:  Alnwick, Hodson, Waghorn