Rangers’ superb European run came to an end on Thursday night at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen.
The Gers secured excellent results away from home at the likes of Porto and Braga earlier in the campaign, but a 3-1 deficit proved too hard to overcome in Germany.
A well-taken goal from Moussa Diaby gave Leverkusen a 1-0 win on the night, seeing them sail through to the quarter-finals with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.
Here are three things we learned from the match:
Leverkusen technically too strong
Rangers started the game with a clear intention to get the ball down and play, but they were outclassed by their opponents.
Leverkusen controlled the midfield and fizzed the ball around showing no signs of rustiness despite the fixture being their first in over a month.
The hosts completed more than three times the number of passes that Steven Gerrard’s side mustered in the first half and only wastefulness in the final third saved the Gers from a heavier defeat.
Peter Bosz’s side has a great blend of youth and experience, with every player comfortable on the ball. If they can improve their finishing, they have a real chance of going beyond the quarter-finals.
Gers exposed at the back
It was always going to be a big ask to shut out Leverkusen on their own turf and Rangers looked defensively vulnerable at times.
Leverkusen consistently found joy in behind as the back four struggled to cope with the pace and movement of the likes of Kai Havertz and Moussa Diaby.
Havertz nipped in behind Helander and Barisic in the first half and should have scored, while the goal came from Diaby running off Tavernier to go through unchallenged.
There was also some sloppiness on the ball from Goldson, whose blushes were saved by McGregor after Havertz was presented with another golden opportunity in the 53rd minute.
Rangers won’t come up against this calibre of opposition too often, though, and Helander should be praised for good last-ditch work on several occasions in what was his first appearance since December.
Morelos looking off-colour
With Rangers’ two new striking recruits ineligible for the game, much of the talk was about Alfredo Morelos in the build-up.
Unfortunately for the Gers, he wasn’t at the races.
The Colombian international squandered an excellent opportunity in the opening stages after being picked out by a pinpoint Barisic cross and thereafter, he struggled to get into the game.
The lone striker was outpaced and outmuscled by Edmond Tapsoba on multiple occasions as he struggled to hold the ball up and bring teammates into play.
Morelos has now scored only once in his last 14 appearances for the club and was substituted with 15 minutes remaining.