Rangers will welcome Legia Warsaw to Ibrox in seven days time with everything to play for after the two sides played out an entertaining 0-0 draw in the Polish capital in their Europa League playoff first-leg clash.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) August 22, 2019
With the home fans packing out the Polish Army Stadium, the 1700 or so Rangers fans who made the trip across were in fine voice as the Gers got started.
After a cagey opening spell, Sheyi Ojo had Rangers’ first real chance of the game after some fantastic work defensively broke up a promising Legia attack, sending James Tavernier free down the right.
The captain’s cross found Ojo unmarked in the box but he couldn’t quite direct his header on target and it dropped just wide of the far post.
Allan McGregor was called into action moments later when he was forced into a strong diving from Luquinhas’ strike from the edge of the box.
Rangers looked comfortable in possession and Scott Arfield and Joe Aribo, in particular, looked dangerous when on the ball for the Gers.
Midway through the opening 45, Legia’s Andre Martins was the first player to go in referee Benoit Bastien’s book after cynically pulling Aribo to the ground as the Gers broke at pace.
McGregor was again called into action when Niko Katic missed his tackle and Cafu’s tried his luck from distance but McGregor punched it clear.
The Gers continued to grow in confidence as the break edged nearer and were beginning to force Legia into spending long spells camped in their own half.
Morelos really started to cause problems for the hosts as he continued to show his critics just how good he can be – and proving those who insisted that he would mature to be completely wrong.
Despite dominating possession for long spells, it remained level at the break but Steven Gerrard will surely have been the happier of the two managers heading down the tunnel.
It was Legia who started the second half on top as they put Rangers under pressure defensively and tried to get balls forward into the box.
The Poles continued to put press Rangers back and probably should have opened the scoring when Lewczuk sent a header just wide of McGregor’s goal.
Rangers had a really good chance of their own through Katic after 65 minutes when the Croatian’s header went close from Steve Davis’ corner.
The Gers started to look a bit tired with McGregor again coming to their rescue as one or two players such as Ojo began to struggle to keep up with the pace of the game.
After all their dominance in the opening 45, the Gers were starting to lose control of the game a bit and it was difficult to see why Gerrard hadn’t turned to his bench earlier before throwing Jermain Defoe and Glen Kamara on with a few minutes remaining.
With a 0-0 in the bag to take back to Glasgow – and a likely rocking Ibrox – the Gers must surely have the advantage in the hunt for a place in the Europa League group stage.
Here’s how Rangers performed in the first leg of their Europa League clash with Legia:
Allan McGregor – 7
The veteran keeper made a number of important saves to keep the scores level and the Gers had him to thank a few times after individual errors gifted chances to Legia.
James Tavernier – 6
Struggled in the first half but didn’t have any major moments to worry about. Grew into the game a bit but didn’t have enough of an influence going forward.
Connor Goldson – 5
Not the best night for Goldson as the defender struggled at times, particularly as Legia pushed forward late on, and needed to be saved by team-mates on a couple of occasions.
Niko Katic – 7
Dominant in the air. Katic is really showing why fans wanted to see more of him last season and is proving to be key for Gerrard’s side.
Jon Flanagan – 8
Solid defensively and made a few, rare, forays forward. Still not convinced he’s the long-term answer at left-back but hasn’t put a foot wrong when called upon recently. Huge tackle in the second half and arguably his best performance in a Rangers shirt.
Steven Davis – 8
Davis was at the heart of everything for Rangers. The veteran midfielder is getting better with every game and looked like he was everywhere as Legia struggled with the Gers midfield all night.
Ryan Jack – 7
Composed and mature performance from Jack in midfield. Not as effective going forward as he has been recently, but played an important role in stifling Legia’s attacks. Kept it simple and always offered an option for team-mates,
Joe Aribo – 7
Another impressive performance from the former Charlton star. Such a classy operator and is only going to get better. Drifted in and out of the games at times but a real threat going forward.
Scott Arfield – 7
Chased down every loose ball as he put in an impressive shift on the right. Canadian skipper harried and hassled Legia players all night. Replaced in the final few minutes.
Sheyi Ojo – 7
Deceptively quiet as the on-loan Liverpool man caused problems for the Legia defence with his runs all night but the end product wasn’t always there. Noticeably tired as the game went on.
Alfredo Morelos – 7
Indecision possibly cost Rangers a chance to open the scoring through Ojo but really grew into the game. Really starting to mature and prove how good a striker that he is. Replaced late on
Substitutes: Kamara, Defoe.