Rangers have won the Veolia Trophy after beating Nice 2-0 to make it two wins from two in the competition for Steven Gerrard’s side.
The Gers made three changes to the side that beat Lyon 2-0 on Thursday night as Alfredo Morelos, Steven Davis and Jon McLaughlin made way for Jermain Defoe, Glen Kamara and Jon McLaughlin.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) July 18, 2020
Despite being a friendly, there was a pretty rough start as both McGregor and Hagi were on the receiving end of heavy tackles in the opening ten minutes of the game.
With both teams looking to build up their match fitness, it was Rangers who looked the sharper of the two sides with Hagi posing a number of problems for the Nice defence.
The game started to feel much more like a pre-season friendly than Thursday’s win as the first half wore on before Hagi again went close with a strike from distance which forced a good stop from the Nice keeper.
Although there were plenty of positives for the Gers, it was again clear that the style Gerrard wants his side to play doesn’t quite suit Defoe, leaving the veteran isolated for long spells – and lacking the pressure Alfredo Morelos puts on opposition defenders.
Joe Aribo done well to win the ball in midfield before slipping Ryan Kent in with acres of space ahead of him, which he was happy to use, then picking out Defoe to cooly slot the ball home.
Jermain Defoe gets Rangers off the mark against Nice! 🔵
A great counter attack rounded off by a cool finish for the opener 👏 pic.twitter.com/uO1BZuJah8
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) July 18, 2020
With no changes at the break, the Gers almost doubled their lead just a few minutes after the restart after some excellent work by Kent down the left but nobody could get onto the end of his tantalising cross and fire home.
The second half lacked any real urgency in the first 15 minutes after the restart before both sides made a raft of changes just after the hour mark.
After both sides introduced a number of new players it injected some more pace into the game as they looked to take their chance and impress.
The mass changes also gave a chance for Jamie Murphy to impress and show Gerrard what he can bring to the side after spending much of the last two years on the sidelines or out on loan.
Murphy almost got his name on the scoresheet when he was first to react when the Nice keeper could only parry Kent’s long-range strike but he managed to smother the ball before Murphy could poke it home with 20 minutes left.
Many of Gerrard’s side have played the bulk of both games over the last few days and it should really have helped build their fitness ahead of the new season getting started on August 1.
As the clock ticked down, Patrick Viera’s side started to put the pressure on Rangers as they tried to find a way back into the game but the Gers defence were a match for them.
It really should have been 2-0 in the final minutes when Murphy got beyond the keeper but couldn’t fire home and kill the game off completely.
With just seconds on the clock, it was 2-0 thanks to Jamie Barjonas as the young midfielder put the cap on a good win for the Gers.
Here’s how Steven Gerrard’s side performed against Nice:
Allan McGregor – 6
First appearance of pre-season for the veteran keeper and had very little to do for long spells as Nice failed to really threaten the Gers goal much before asserting some pressure late on.
James Tavernier – 6
A steady shift from the skipper as he got up and down the right flank. Still prone to the odd baffling moment but looking much more like the old Tavernier. Replaced by Nathan Patterson.
Connor Goldson – 7
Had the first real chance of the game but headed over the bar after 10 minutes. Solid alongside Edmundson again as they limited Nice’s chances at goal.
George Edmundson – 6
The former Oldham defender has impressed so far in pre-season and put in another decent performance against the French side, although sometimes he has slight lapses in his concentration when given time on the ball. Replaced by Glenn Middleton in the final minutes.
Borna Barisic – 6
A bit sloppy in possession at times as the Croatian international struggled to really get going. Replaced by Calvin Bassey after an hour.
Glen Kamara – 6
The Finnish midfielder put in his usual metronomic performance in central midfield. Rarely wastes a pass. Substituted after an hour with Steven Davis taking his place.
Ryan Jack – 6
Kept things simple in midfield and took a little bit to really get going before he started to control the game for Gerrard’s side. Replaced by Scott Arfield with 30 minutes left.
Joe Aribo – 7
Such an under-appreciated player at times. Looks effortless at times and imposed himself on the game as Rangers tried to take control. Will be a huge player for Gerrard’s side this season. Replaced by Jamie Barjonas for the last ten minutes.
Ryan Kent – 8
The winger kept his place despite being sent off in midweek and looked hungry to get at the Nice defence. Alongside Hagi, he was Rangers’ biggest threat throughout and hopefully he can carry that form into competitive games. Replaced by Greg Stewart late on.
Ianis Hagi – 7
Posed a serious threat for the Nice defence as he looked to get in behind them and stretch the game. Really looking like the player that the hype suggested Rangers were getting. Replaced by Jamie Murphy.
Jermain Defoe – 6
Isolated for long spells in the opening 45 before showing his quality with a cool finish to make it 1-0 five minutes before half time. Replaced by Alfredo Morelos.