Jay Blakeway reporting from Firhill
Ten-man Rangers U19s went down 2-6 to Ajax U19s in their final group match in the UEFA Youth League at Firhill
Despite a brace from Ross McCausland putting the young Gers side in front after going down to an early goal, the sending off of Bailey Rice eventually caught up with the hosts who succumbed to a very good Dutch side.
Ajax had the ball in the back of the net after just two minutes, but the flag was up for offside.
Jacob Pazikas in the Rangers goal was called into action soon after, parrying a shot from range from Chahine van Bohemen into a dangerous area but fortunately the Light Blues defence was able to clear.
But the away side’s early pressure and possession eventually paid off not even ten minutes into the first half when tricky winger David Kalokoh bamboozled the right-hand side of the defence before placing a shot into the bottom corner from close range.
Ajax’s left flank was proving a worry for Rangers throughout the first half, with Kalohoh linking up well with his full-back.
The home side were reduced to ten men in the 26th minute. Their opponents pounced on a mistake deep into the Rangers half and it resulted in Rice hauling down Ajax striker Skye Vink on the edge of the box as he darted towards goal. The referee’s decision appeared justified with the visitors being denied a goal-scoring opportunity.
Despite being a man down, Rangers rallied through an eight-minute double from McCausland. The Northern Irish forward grabbed his first goal following pinball in the box to slam home the rebound at the back post. The number 11’s second was much more polished, firing home a low driven effort from just inside the box after great work by Zak Lovelace down the right.
Unfortunately, McCausland’s counterpart in the number 11 jersey also fancied himself a brace. Kalokoh grabbed his second of the match in injury time of the first half, cutting in from the left and rifling a fine shot from outside the box past Pazikas’ left.
After the interval, the dismissal shown its effect on the young Light Blues side. Raphael Sarto regained Ajax’s lead ten minutes into the second period from close range after a dangerous cross into the box.
Things went from bad to worse in the 62nd minute for David McCallum’s team.. After a stramash in the penalty area, the ball was eventually cleared but only to van Bohemen who fired low past the Rangers goalkeeper for 4-2.
The game was effectively over as a contest in the 72nd minute when Vink beat McCausland on the right and squared up Rida Chahid for a tap-in.
Ajax compiled Rangers misery with a sixth goal in the last minute of the game when Yoram Boerhout rolled the ball under a helpless Pazikas
The UEFA Youth League has been a tough but rewarding experience for Rangers U19s.
Full of learning curves and many a fine line, the competition has provided David McCallum’s young side with invaluable top-level European experience which they can learn from and harness the experience as they begin their promising careers.
David McCallum: “Delighted with the response when we went to ten men. The red card just caught up with us as the game went on.”
Robbie Ure on playing in the competition: “I’ve loved every minute of it and so has everyone else. Playing against top teams and top players drop my age is only going to benefit me. I hope we can stick together and keep going for the rest of the season.”
5 van Bohemen
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