Rangers pulled off an astonishing late comeback from 2- down to rescue their Europa League hopes with a extraordinary victory over Braga at Ibrox.
The slick Portuguese have been dominant and cruising in the very last-32 1st leg after ambitions from Fransergio and Abel Ruiz.
But Rangers hit back again with an Ianis Hagi double both aspect of Joe Aribo’s exceptional solo intention in a 15-moment flurry.
The Scottish facet, though, will be with no suspended prime scorer Alfredo Morelos in Wednesday’s second leg.
The Colombian’s initially-half reserving attained him a ban that could demonstrate highly-priced next week, but there was only jubilation at full-time right after a renowned and improbable fightback that will reside long in the memory.
Hagi evokes late revival
Rangers experienced now defeated Portuguese opposition at Ibrox this year, their 2- victory above Porto serving to to secure development as team runners-up. Braga may well not have the very same lustre, but they promptly proved they can enjoy as they sought to extending their unbeaten operate in Europe to 14 matches.
On a soggy, threadbare surface area, Rangers were being bogged down and performed off the park for a lot of the initially hour by the swift-passing people.
Braga obviously hadn’t occur to sit again. Deploying a risky higher defensive line, they attacked with incisive intent and when the opener arrived just 11 minutes in, it was by now overdue.
The warning indications had been there from the outset. Raul Silva was picked out by a Sequeira totally free-kick only to head straight at Allan McGregor, with Braga having two bites at the rebound but failing to transform.
Mercurial ahead Francisco Trincao – who has agreed a £26m transfer to Barcelona this summer time – then flashed a shot inches wide prior to Fransergio produced his side’s dominance depend. The Brazilian midfielder strode ahead, shrugged off Scott Arfield’s tried obstacle and thudded a swerving 25-property push in off the crossbar.
Rangers were careless in possession and inviting force. Slowly, although, they recovered from the sticky begin and commenced to vogue a menace.
Morelos – the tournament’s leading scorer – looked set to increase to his tally as Gerrard’s side found some pleasure from popping passes into place guiding the Braga defence.
Morelos broke clear, but goalkeeper Matheus stayed tall and trapped out a boot to help you save. The Brazilian recurring the trick before long soon after from an acute angle when Morelos latched on to a completely weighted Hagi by means of ball.
Braga remained a danger, nonetheless, and Paulinho looped a considerably-post header way too higher in advance of Trincao curled a shot by means of Borna Barisic’s legs and just previous the submit.
There was no real indicator of the tide turning as the 2nd fifty percent commenced with Braga once more in the ascendancy. Glen Kamara’s misplaced header put Joao Palhinha in on goal, with the striker’s large touch acquiring the hosts off the hook.
A miscued Morelos cross from the suitable flank then deceived Matheus and just about ended up in the best corner. But a different Rangers mistake practically doubled their deficit as possession was coughed up cheaply and Fransergio rattled the bar from outside the house the box.
By now the boos were ringing out at Ibrox and when Morelos couldn’t convert from three yards, with Matheus somehow producing a smothering help you save, it appeared it would not be Rangers’ evening. In particular when Braga doubled their lead with a nicely-labored move. Ruiz, on personal loan from Barcelona, marked his debut with the finishing contact as he lashed the ball into the base corner.
It practically became 3- when a Braga counter-attack sent Palhinha apparent all over again and McGregor arrived to the rescue with a timely block. The importance of that help save quickly turned obvious as Hagi gave the property side a lifeline when he cut within from the appropriate flank and powered a left-foot shot in off the post.
Abruptly, Ibrox was jolted back again to lifetime. Substitute Aribo then experienced the put rocking to the rafters with a aim of superb skill, dancing past four issues before calming slotting past Matheus.
Fittingly, the closing say belonged to Hagi, who had completed much more than most to haul his facet out of their stupor. The Romanian’s no cost-kick from 25 yards took a deflection off the wall and dropped just within the article. Cue bedlam.
Rangers however have work to do, especially with no Morelos up coming 7 days, but their prospective customers are now seeking a great deal healthier.
Rangers lengthen unbeaten run – studies
- Rangers are unbeaten in five game titles in European competitiveness such as qualifiers (W2 D3), and have shed just one of their very last 15.
- Like qualifiers, Braga suffered their to start with defeat in their past 14 matches in European competitors (W9 D4).
- Rangers conceded much more than one particular goal in a house European game (such as qualifiers) for the very first time in 23 video games, considering that losing -2 to Stuttgart in November 2009 in the Champions League.
- Fransergio has been right included in a few ambitions in his final 3 Europa League appearances for Sporting Braga (2 objectives, 1 guide), right after having a hand in four in the eight in advance of that (4 objectives).
- This was only the fifth Europa League recreation this season to see a side score two aims from outside the box, through Sporting Braga’s prolonged-array initiatives.