Rangers were in France tonight to start our pre season formally with a friendly in Lyon. Rangers shaped up in usual fashion in a 4-3-2-1 formation which is flexible in it’s set up. Jon McLaughlin started as Allan McGregor had a small knock, with the back four recognisable with Barisic, Goldson, Edmundson and Tavernier all in position. Aribo, Jack and Davis provided the midfield with the now customary two ‘no 10s’ Hagi and Kent, Alfredo lead the line in his customary position in attack.
The line up was arguably the strongest available against a Lyon side who will resume Champions League action in a few weeks time.
Lyon would dominate the early exchanges and Cherki forced McLaughlin into his first save in Rangers colours, spreading his legs to stop smartly. In ten minutes only a saving tackle from Connor Goldson would stop Lyon going in front, the warning signs were certainly evident for us at that point. Rangers were loose in possession and Edmundson lucky to get away with sloppy play from a goal kick, the first fifteen certainly not overly fluent for Rangers .
But that would waken Rangers up and some smart passing, particularly in midfield between Jack and Davis, would get us up the field where a we would get a couple of corners. From that Ryan Kent smartly took it short and cut the Lyon defence wide open to square for Ianis Hagi and the ball was bundled home, not sure he touched it but we’ll give him it anyway. 1-0 Rangers
Rangers were beginning to find their groove and moments later it definitely was Hagi’s goal as we broke forward and a brilliant overlap from Borna picked out Hagi who tucked it away for number two. After the opening fifteen minutes, when we arguably rode our luck, Rangers had responded brilliantly. We looked more comfortable and beginning to use the ball well, much more like us. 2-0 Rangers
Lyon were still dangerous, Rangers were playing very narrow which allowed Lyon a lot of time to cross and Aribo lost his man for a free header which Lyon really should have been back in the game with. That chance bought Lyon some confidence and they were back on the front foot as the first half closed.
But in 38mins the game took a turn for the worst when Marcelo took a couple of taps on Ryan Kents head, Kent would then take a slap back at him and would instantly be dismissed. Such a weak and poor decision, especially when no action was taken for a ridiculous tackle on Ryan Jack earlier. It became farcical moments later when Raphael crudely hacked at Borna and wasn’t even spoken too. It was stupid from Kent but it’s never a red especially in a friendly and especially when no action was taken in other situations.
2-0 Rangers at HT and we were well worth it once we got the ball down and began to knock it around. We are a good side when we have that confidence.
Kamara and Arfield replaced Hagi and Jack at half time.
Rangers were very well organised and drilled with Aribo playing with Morelos on the break. George Edmundson having a good fifteen minutes with a number of blocks and clearances. It was in many ways like a typical European away game, in fact we were arguably one Jon Flanagan forearm from being back in Russia.
On 57mins Rangers would make a host of changes with Jones, Barker, Bassey, Ross McCrorie coming on for Morelos, Barisic, Davis and Joe Aribo. Excellent minutes in the legs for the players who started the game and the manager will be pleased with their contribution. It was Barker who almost made an instant impact brilliantly cutting in and showing his pace and Ross McCrorie really should have tied the game up for Rangers.
More atrocious refereeing allowed Lyon a chance of a free kick when George Edmundson was adjudged to have handled when it was anything but, fortunately his effort would go wide. Jon McLaughlin then pulled out a smart save diving left as pressure began to build.
But Rangers were impressive and knocked the ball about well, only the first fifteen were we second best but even with ten men we have been really effective. The excellent George Edmundson would be replaced by Greg Docherty as Lyon brought on Depay and Dembele for the final 20 minutes.
In 75 mins though Barker was superb in breaking forward and skinning Denayer before squaring for Jones who poked wide. It was brilliant by Barker and glimpses of what he was capable of, Jones really should have scored. Paterson and Mayo came on for Goldson and Tavernier with fifteen to go.
Rangers were under intense pressure in the final ten with a brilliant Mayo challenge stopping a Lyon cut back and smart keeping from McLaughlin denying a deflected cross. As Barker hobbled of with five left it really was like Russia as we were down to nine and again McLaughlin would be smart again down to his left. Mayo was impressive again in defence blocking Dembele and throwing his body in.
Special mention to the young back four of Paterson, Mayo, McCrorie and Bassey who stood up to the Lyon onslaught against nine men. Our GK looked very competent and capable also.
FT Lyon 0 Rangers 2
Rangers were wonderful tonight in spells and used the ball really well. To finish with nine against a top class Lyon side is impressive stuff. A lot of good performances from a number of players and it should be a huge confidence boost.
There was even a wee 90 minute sing song from the few bears that had sneaked in