Fourteen years ago Rangers went to France and pulled off one of the clubs greatest ever Champions League performances in the clubs history. A three nil win in Lyon stunned Europe as goals from McCulloch, Daniel Cousin and Da Marcus Beasley sent Rangers into dreamland.
Revenge was swiftly dished out in the home leg as a Karim Benzema double helped Lyon win themselves by three goals to nil. A defeat which had a significant impact as we would go into the Europa league and embark on the famous trip to Manchester. One remarkable memory was a horror miss by Jean Claude Darcheville from almost under the bar in a game that a young Benzema showed his huge potential.
Tonight could be anything. Lyon are a top quality side but this Rangers team are more than capable and I back them against anyone. I expect goals and I do think it is a very tough ask.
Arguably we aren’t anywhere near top form but there was a resilience and determination, when we went behind on Saturday, that gives me great hope. Form is always temporary but that spirit is vital and this Rangers team have that in abundance. Tonight they will need it all and spirit as we tackle an outstanding opponent.
There has been some debate as to whether Lyon are the strongest we have faced, in my opinion they are, in Steven Gerrards previous 49 European matches. They have quality throughout and will come to win and come to play. Denayer, Emerson, Boatang, Aouar and Paqueta are the recognisable names amongst many. Paqueta and Aouar the ones already earmarked by Michael Beale as the main threats to our chances this evening.
As for Rangers, well Connor Goldson returns as does Borna Barisic to a defence that also includes our captain James Tavernier and Leon Balogun. Those four protect Allan McGregor who also returns in goals.
Middle three is Kamara, Davis and John Lundstram who makes his return. It’s a huge match for him, if he plays well then his start is behind him and any doubts will be mostly gone, a repeat of previous performances and it’s a long way back. But he is fitter and better placed so hopefully we see a performance.
Up front Joe Aribo moves one forward alongside Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos. Oh for another one of Alfredo’s classic European performances, he’s three shy of one hundred, let’s hope by the time this blog report finishes he is a lot closer.
So Ibrox is ready, the atmosphere electric and expectant. We have come a long way in a short time under this management, the previous 49 largely enjoyable.
Number 50 is here and upon us. Good luck Rangers, let’s go!
First half action
6 mins – Davis shoots high and wide as ball breaks 25 yards out, not his speciality to be fair.
14 mins – CAUTION – Goldson goes in the book as he crudely wipes out Ekambi, a little bit naughty that one.
19 mins – Lyon pressure now beginning and a free kick outside the box hits the wall but signs aren’t great as I can’t help but feel Lyon are starting to up the pace.
23 mins – GOAL – There it is and as I was worried about, Lyon take the lead. Kent has it centre circle, the quick ball to Morelos was missed and Lyon break to devastating effect. One pass and Ekambi cuts in to fire into the corner past McGregor. 0-1 Lyon
29 mins – Better from Rangers as Aribo cuts in to fire low but easily stopped by Lopes.
30 mins – CAUTION – Slimani goes into the book for a late one on Balogun.
36 mins – CLOSE – Kent wins it and a quick pass by Alfredo goes to Lundstram who shifts it onto his left and fires just wide, that bent away from goal and was extremely close.
38 mins – Lyon up the other end and beyond Borna easily, megged in the process, and Gusto fires the cut back wide. It’s too easy down that side.
41 mins – CHANCE! Superb save by Lopes as it falls to Kent who moves it on his right and fires low, that was a tremendous save to be fair.
Lyon pressure ends the half as once again they get down the left as no one tracks the runner, Gustos low cross evades everyone. Rangers need to watch that.
Half time – Rangers 0 Lyon 1
Half time thoughts – It’s not the tempo and aggression I had hoped for from Rangers. Lyon look to be in second gear and when they up it they look extremely dangerous. They have got in Rangers Left far too many times and are dangerous from both flanks.
The goal was a special finish but we’ve went from attack to conceding in seconds with relatively no pressure, that’s a big concern.
Going forward we have had chances, Lundstram, Aribo and Kent going close and when we do shift it quicker we look a lot better. There is joy to be had if we move it with more intent but we are still playing well within our capabilities. Big second half ahead and we have to get the next goal, but we are capable and there are signs in the first half that it is possible to hurt them.
Play up Rangers
Second half action –
48 mins – Slow start even this early into second, Ekambi breaks after Davis slack pass, deflected over which starts a flurry of Lyon corners and pressure.
52 mins – CAUTION – Boateng hand ball stops a quick break.
54 mins – GOAL! 0-2 Lyon. So poor as Aribo and then Kent gives it away overplaying, Aouar forces a good save from McGregor and in the scramble Slimani puts it in off Tavernier. All to do now.
We overplayed and it cost us but we haven’t started this second half.
60 mins – Wright on for Davis with Aribo going into midfield.
64 mins – Tav free kick hits outside of the post and is wide, a good effort by the captain in fairness.
69 mins – INJURY Kent, hamstring goes and in a night that has got progressively worse this hasn’t helped at all.
74 mins – Double Caution – Aribo tackle and then Morelos for dissent as frustration is clear.
Last action for Aribo as Fashion makes his entrance.
80 mins – Lyon content to play out the game and allow Rangers the ball with zero danger. Fashion fires over and it’s all a bit huff and puff.
85 mins – Morelos wins a free kick which Tavernier stands up to back post and Balogun heads over. A decent effort.
86 mins – Fashion gets down the touchline but no cut back and chance is gone.
Full time Rangers 0 Lyon 2
Summary – Extremely poor second half summed up a really tepid overall display from Rangers. A real lack of aggression and pace meant a really easy win for Lyon. First half was decent with levels still to go which we just didn’t ever find.
Thought at half time we were still in it but that second half is miles away from acceptable and to start like that just made it easy for Lyon who are a classy outfit.
Rangers are lacking something at times but I can’t put my finger on what it is. There is a lack of pace and quite often it becomes passive which is a huge concern. It was almost like tonight seemed a forgone conclusion and that spark at half time just never came.
This is obviously straight after Full time but I’m disappointed by that from Rangers on so many levels. I don’t expect us to win every game but to play with a level of intensity and passion, that second half is miles away from what I think we are capable of.
The manager has went on about a big squad, maybe it’s time to use some of them and freshen things up going forward because there is quite a few no where near their capabilities.
It finishes two nil and Lyon worthy winners, but for us it’s more questions and we need to start finding answers.
Attendance – 44906