Rangers will be in Friday’s Europa League last 16 draw after a 1-0 win against Braga in Portugal secured their passage to the next round.

The Gers made four changes from the draw with St. Johnstone at the weekend with Nikola Katic, Andy Halliday, Joe Aribo and the suspended Alfredo Morelos missing out as George Edmundson, Borna Barisic, Steven Davis and Flo Kamberi came into the starting XI.

Both sides struggled to really get going in the opening stages as neither was able to really take control and string a number of passes together as both sides looked a bit nervy.

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It was Kamberi who had the Gers’ first chance when Scott Arfield beat the offside trap before playing the Albanian in but his shot was straight at Matheus as the Light Blues looked to grab an early goal.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 26: Rangers fans looks on prior to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020 in Braga, Portugal.

 (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

 

Gerrard’s side looked much livelier than they had in first leg at Ibrox with Ryan Kent doing really well to create chances for Arfield and Kamberi but neither could convert.

Kent had a golden chance of his own after 19 minutes when Ianis Hagi showed great footwork to get away from his man, playing the ball to an unmarked Kent but he put his effort wide of the post.

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The Gers should have been out of sight by that point and with over an hour to play, the huge number of Rangers fans who made the trip to Portugal will have been left hoping it wouldn’t come back to haunt them.

Allan McGregor was called into action 25 minutes in when he turned Paulinho header over after Sequeira’s cross picked him out in the penalty area.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 26: Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers FC looks on prior to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020 in Braga, Portugal.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

 

Fransergio, who scored a stunner in the first leg, almost levelled the tie when he went close with a header as the hosts upped the pressure on Rangers.

The Gers looked to have coped with the spell of Braga dominance as the opening 45 ebbed away and Gerrard’s side looked to have learned their lesson from the first leg clash six days ago.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Rangers got their first introduction to VAR after a handball by Silva inside the box – with the video ref giving the OK for the referee to award a spot-kick.

After a slight delay, Ianis Hagi stepped up but Matheus kept it out with a strong hand as yet another Rangers penalty was missed.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 26: Scott Arfield of Rangers FC makes a break during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020 in Braga, Portugal.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

The second half started with no changes in the Rangers side as Gerrard stuck by the side that came so close in the opening 45 as they got closer to the last 16.

 

It was the Gers who started on the front foot as Braga realised they only had 45 minutes to salvage their European adventure and the home fans started getting audibly frustrated.

Braga made a couple of early changes after the break as Ruben Amorim and his staff threw everything at it in a bid to break Rangers down and grab the goal that would put them in the driving seat.

The hosts began to take some more control towards the hour mark and had plenty of possession without ever really threatening the Rangers goal.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 26: Joao Palhinha of Braga is tackled by Florian Kamberi of Rangers FC during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020 in Braga, Portugal.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

With 30 minutes remaining the goal Rangers were hoping for came as Ryan Kent sent the travelling Gers fans wild.

Hagi’s brilliant ball sent the attacker away down the left and he surged at goal before coolly firing beyond Matheus to put the Gers 4-2 up on aggregate.

The goal sparked Braga’s final change of the game as they had their final roll of the ice with a little over 20 minutes to go.

Gerrard’s side looked assured in defence however but the Gers would have to ensure they didn’t let it drop with one foot in the last 16 and a spot in Friday’s draw.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 26: Ryan Kent of Rangers FC is challenged by Ricardo Esgaio of SC Braga during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Club Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020 in Braga, Portugal.

 (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Gerrard turned to his bench as he looked to see out the final stages and introduced Joe Aribo for the impressive Hagi to shore up the midfield.

Rangers thought they had killed the game off when Scott Arfield poked the ball home after Goldson’s header came off the post but it was flagged for offside.

The final ten minutes were to be an onslaught on the Gers goal but for all of Braga’s possession, they done very little with it and the Light Blues remained strong.

Rangers: McGregor, Barisic, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Davis, Jack, Arfield, Kent, Hagi, Kamberi.

Subs: Foderingham, Halliday, Katic, Aribo, Ojo, Stewart.

Braga: Matheus, Sequeira, Paulinho, Horta, Fransergio, Silva, Viana, Esgaio, Palhinga, Trincao, Carmo.

Subs: Sa, Tormena, Ruiz, Horta, Novais, Fonte, Galeno

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