The Europa League dream remains alive for Rangers – but there’s much work to do after a narrow first-leg defeat to RB Leipzig.
Robbed of a recognised striker by injuries to Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe, Giovanni van Bronckhorst ‘s side produced a largely resolute display against the Bundesliga’s in-form side.
But a spectacular late volley from full-back Angelino broke the Ibrox rearguard to give Leipzig a slender advantage ahead of a blockbuster return at Ibrox next week.
The eyes of the world’s media descended upon the Red Bull Arena as Rangers set up to frustrate Domenico Tedesco’s side – and it was an approach that drew mixed reviews.
One outlet remarked that “only one team wanted to attack”, while another claimed Van Bronckhorst’s “ultra defensive” team will be required to change their tactics next week.
But plenty acknowledged that Rangers mostly limited a highly dangerous outfit to very few chances to keep the tie in the balance for a huge night in front of a raucous Ibrox crowd.
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It was noted that Allan McGregor had very few saves to make over the 90 minutes – although the veteran keeper did earn a nickname he perhaps won’t find too flattering.
Here’s a selection of reaction from around the football world.
A stunning volley from Angelino gave RB Leipzig a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final with Rangers on Thursday.
Domenico Tedesco’s men were the aggressors for much of the game, but the Bundesliga side struggled to create chances against a resolute Gers backline, until the former Manchester City left-back’s strike with five minutes remaining.
Leipzig dangerman Christopher Nkunku – who has 30 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season – was unable to add to his tally, with the visitors keeping the Frenchman relatively quiet at Red Bull Arena.
It was not quite the famous night in Germany that Rangers experienced earlier in the campaign when they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 at Signal Iduna Park, but with just a one-goal deficit, it leaves the tie open ahead of the second leg at Ibrox next week.
The Guardian (London)
A stunning late winner from Angelino was a sickener … but not *too* much of one. Rangers are still well in this tie and the second leg next week is set up to be a belter!
A result, then, that both sides will find reason to be encouraged by. Rangers did open up more in the second half – Kent’s cross-shot was their best moment – but a below-par Leipzig created more too and Nkunku missed a couple of big chances, one a quite amazing sitter. So the result was fair but, with a bit more attacking thrust at Ibrox, there’s no reason this cannot be reversed. It’s still on.
“I’ve scored better goals,” said Angelino dryly.
But perhaps the volley from 20 meters that led to the 1-0 first-leg win in the Europa League semi-finals against Glasgow Rangers is one of the more important goals in the 25-year-old’s career. That puts Leipzig just a step ahead of the second leg in a week’s time at the legendary Ibrox Stadium .
That can only do the game good. Because in front of their own fans, the Scottish champions cannot build up 90 minutes around their own penalty area if they want to reach the final in Seville on May 18th.
Long blocked by a solid formation of Rangers, RB Leipzig ended up winning and taking a small option for the Seville final.
With a masterful volley with his left foot in the 85th minute, Angelino put the German team in front before the return which promises to be boiling in Scotland.
Leipzig had overall control of the ball and the game against a close-knit Scots who had clearly come to Germany to play the draw and the counters.
Result: not a shot on target at the break, the first having taken place in the 53rd minute on an attempt by … Nkunku, always him.
The tricolor international then missed a huge opportunity, alone in front of goal, when he had erased Lundstram and dribbled past the goalkeeper.
It was finally Angelino who unblocked the situation five minutes from the end. The Spaniard was on the receiving end of a cleared ball from a corner and he sent a shot from the left in a half-volley which came to lodge in the small net.
Thanks to Angelino’s beautiful volley, RB Leipzig has a good chance of reaching the Europa League final. Domenico Tedesco would have preferred Rangers to be a bit more attacking in the first leg.
It was clear to Domenico Tedesco that the Glasgow Rangers would not play for possession at RB Leipzig.
However, Leipzig was a little surprised that Giovanni van Bronckhorst set his team up as defensively as he did, namely with a 5-3-2 that was deep in his own half. “It’s brutal,” was Tedesco’s lips to read in the first half, his team just couldn’t find a gap in the Scots’ defence.
RB is now taking the 1-0 to Ibrox Stadium.
Tedesco does not assume that the Rangers will initially change their orientation there: “Maybe not from the beginning. But at some point they have to come,” said the 36-year-old, who with RB is only one step from the second final in this one season is removed.
In order to make the final in Seville perfect, Leipzig must “play very cleverly” in Glasgow according to keeper Gulacsi. The backdrop at Ibrox Stadium has helped Rangers many times this season, with around 7,000 guest fans in Leipzig already at the stadium.
“There are better moods, I’ll be honest,” Tedesco was not really impressed by the overall support in the Red Bull Arena.
Leipzig takes a first step towards the Europa League final. In a close game, with only one team intent on attacking, Angeliño found a hole to sneak in to shatter the resistance of an ultra-defensive Rangers.
The Scots are betting everything on the second leg, and perhaps there, with a more attacking Rangers, Leipzig will find the game they desperately searched for today.
For a long time it looks like a 0:0. Because Leipzig superstar Christopher Nkunku misses a huge opportunity. In the 70th minute, the Frenchman rounded Glasgow’s grey goalkeeper grandpa McGregor (40), but hit the ball wide of the corner (70′). Fits the striker’s current losing streak: he hasn’t hit a goal for over 300 minutes. Before that, he scored 30 goals in 3501 minutes, meaning he scored every 117 minutes.
RB boss Oliver Mintzlaff (46) after the game on RTLplus: “We wouldn’t be here without Christopher. He’s having a fantastic season for us, is a world-class player. I’ll forgive him for not doing something like that.”
Glasgow, who threw out Borussia Dortmund 4-2 and 2-2 in the playoffs in February, was much too harmless up front. Almost 5,000 fans in the stands shout their Rangers forward. Only 2,400 tickets were officially given to the guests. There are even 7,500 followers in the city. Among them are around 500 Hamburger SV fans who are celebrating thanks to a fan friendship.