Rangers are through to the last 32 of the Europa League with a game to spare after a 3-2 win over Standard Liege at Ibrox after going behind twice to the Belgians before staging a remarkable comeback.
Steven Gerrard made seven changes from the side that faced Falkirk on Sunday night with only James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic and Scott Arfield retaining their place in the starting XI and it was a difficult start for the Light Blues.
The Gers fell behind just six minutes in as Tabsoba took advantage of some poor positioning by the hosts’ defence, finding Lestienne in the six yard box to fire home from close range.
It was a pretty poor start from Gerrard’s side as they lacked the energy and movement that has been typical of many of their performances so far this season, with he visitors controlling much of the opening fifteen minutes.
Despite struggling to really threaten, the Gers drew themselves level through Connor Goldson on 38 minutes but it was short-lived when Cop fired Liege back in front less that a minute later.
The action in the first half wasn’t over there as Rangers were awarded a penalty for handball in stoppage time, with James Tavernier making it 2-2 with his 15th goal of the season.
Liege started the second 45 like they did the first and McGregor had to be alert a couple of times as the visitors tried to get infront for a third time in the game and keep their Europa League campaign alive.
It was Rangers who scored the fifth goal of the night though as Scott Arfield scored to round off a nice attacking move from the Light Blues; Kamara showing excellent footwork to make a bit of space and send Kent inside the Standard fullback and his cross was stroked home by the on-rushing Arfield.
Borna Barisic almost made it 4-2 with a stunning free-kick with eleven minutes to go but was denied by an equally stunning save as his effort looked destined to squeeze in just beneath the crossbar – with Kemar Roofe also having a great chance to make it 4-2 but firing straight at the keeper.
Despite taking their time to get into the game, one Rangers took the lead, they looked pretty comfortable with Gerrard turning to his subs late on and introducing some fresh legs.
Here’s how Steven Gerrard’s side performed against the Belgians:
Allan McGregor – 6
Big save from Tapsoba in the second half as the visitors looked for a third but didn’t have a huge amount to do beyond a few simple catches. Won’t be happy at conceding twice as he became the Gers’ all-time leader in European appearances.
James Tavernier – 7
Out of position at the opener and created a gap for Liege to work the ball into before Lestienne netted. Scored right on half-time as Rangers drew level. Worked hard throughout but not one of his best performances.
Connor Goldson – 7
Caught out at the opener as the Belgians took advantage of the space left between Goldson and Tavernier but made up for it with the equaliser. Solid enough performance after a sloppy start.
Leon Balogun – 6
Like the rest of the defence, he should have done better at the opener but grew into the game. Once Rangers were on top, he looked far more comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Borna Barisic – 7
Should’ve done better as Standard opened the scoring, letting Lestienne get on the wrong side of him to fire home. Fantastic cross for Goldson to equalise just before the break. Almost got a goal of his own with a stunning free kick. Replaced by Calvin Bassey in the final minutes.
Scott Arfield – 7
Pretty subdued for spells early on but central to Rangers’ attacks as his runs caused problems for the Standard defence. Scored the third after getting on the end of Ryan Kent’s cross. Replaced by Bongani Zungu near the end.
Glen Kamara – 7
75th appearance for Rangers but was far too passive at times as Rangers chased the game in the early stages. Started to really take control of things and dictate the tempo alongside Davis as the Gers turned the game around.
Steven Davis – 8
Veteran midfielder showed some glimpses of his quality in the opening 45 but struggled to break Liege’s press. Experience shone through to help the Gers get on top of the game in the second 45.
Kemar Roofe – 6
Not up to his usual recent performances but a decent shift regardless. Wasn’t involved anywhere near as much as he’d have liked but looked dangerous when he was. Continues to get closer to full sharpness and really should have made it 4-2 in the final minutes before being replaced by Cedric Itten.
Ryan Kent – 7
Looked the most likely to make something happen for Rangers in the opening 30 minutes as the Gers struggled to really get forward and threaten. Picked out Arfield for the third goal.
Alfredo Morelos – 6
The Colombian cut a frustrated figure as he struggled to influence the game early on. Lots of hard work from the Ibrox star and started to cause problems for the visitors. Replaced by Joe Aribo for the final ten minutes.