Rangers 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen: Michael Beale’s Ibrox debut shows promise/Match conference reaction

Rangers ran out rampant 3-0 winners over Bayer Leverkusen in this friendly match at Ibrox—a first in the dugout as manager for Michael Beale.

A quickfire double from Malik Tillman and a goal from Scott Arfield capped off a much-improved Light Blues display.

The new boss said prior to the match that supporters should not base their expectations going forward off this friendly as it was all about giving each player involved a chance to stake their claim ahead of Thursday night’s Premiership return against Hibernian.

Beale will take charge of his first competitive match since re-joining from Queen’s Park Rangers next Thursday night when the Edinburgh side come to Govan.

Still, Rangers fielded a strong 11 from the start for this one, with Antonio Colak and Ryan Jack coming back into the side since the last time the Gers were in action, the 1-1 draw with St. Mirren on November 12—Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s final game in charge.

Allan McGregor was forced into the first save of the match when his reflexes denied Jonathan Tah from close range who headed unchallenged from a corner.

After a decent start where Rangers looked much sharper already, they took the lead through Tillman with barely 15 minutes played, when the midfielder got across the face of goal to guide a James Tavernier cross past Lukas Hradecky.

And it was Tillman at the double five minutes later, aided by another assist from the captain. In what felt like the first corner scored by the Ibrox side in a long, long time, Tillman rose high at the front post to meet the in-swinging delivery and head the ball home for 2-0.

Rabbi Matondo is a player in desperate need of confidence. Operating in a more central role in the first half, he was played through by Glen Kamara and took on the German defence. Unfortunately, his effort in the 24th-minute was curled wide.

Xabi Alonso’s side had spells of possession in a first 45 largely controlled by Rangers. Amine Adli had the best chance for his team when he got in behind Tavernier on the Rangers right, but he could not trouble McGregor as his low drive could only hit the side netting.

As expected, wholesale changes were made at the interval, with Jon McLaughlin, John Lundstram, Steven Davis, Arfield, Scott Wright, Fashion Sakala and Alfredo Morelos all getting a run-out.

Two-goal Tillman made way, alongside McGregor, Jack, Kamara, Matondo, Ryan Kent and Colak.

The hosts looked to assert their dominance ten minutes after the interval when Arfield bore down goal after latching onto a Morelos through ball. Hradecky was there to parry, though.

It was almost a dream return to first-team action for Alex Lowry. On for the substitute Sakala well into the second period, his effort from the edge of the box was fired wide of target.

Leverkusen were still not out of the match at that stage yet. Tavernier made a fantastic goal-line clearance from Noah Pesch. The rebound from McLaughlin’s initial save looked destined to be scored, but the skipper was there to the rescue.

Tavernier had the chance to be the hero again, this time at the other end. In the 80th minute, Morelos was bundled to the ground inside the box and a penalty was awarded. Normally deadly from 12-yards, the Englishman’s attempt clipped the right-hand post on the way past.

The icing was put on the cake for the new gaffer with a third seven minutes from time. After great one-touch exchange between Lowry and Morelos, the Columbian found Arfield unmarked in the middle of the box and he coolly converted.

The manager may have told fans not to use this mid-season friendly as a benchmark, but the early signs of what he wants from his side were present today. The front three played closer together—something he said he desired in his first press conference—and the tempo was greatly improved.

Attendance: 26,192

Rangers

1 Allan McGregor

2 James Tavernier ©

19 James Sands

38 Leon King

44 Adam Devine

17 Rabbi Matondo

8 Ryan Jack

18 Glen Kamara

14 Ryan Kent

71 Malik Tillman

9 Antonio Colak

Substitutes

33 Jon McLaughlin

28 Robby McCrorie

4 John Lundstram

10 Steven Davis

20 Alfredo Morelos

23 Scott Wright

29 Charlie McCann

30 Fashion Sakala

37 Scott Arfield

49 Robbie Fraser

51 Alex Lowry

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

1 Lucas Hradecky©

4 Johnathan Tah

8 Robert Andrich

10 Kerem Demirbay

12 Edmond Tapsoba

19 Moussa Diaby

21 Amine Adli

22 Daley Sinkgraven

23 Adam Hlozek

29 Zidan Serrdemir

32 Ayman Azhil

Substitutes

36 Niklas Lomb

5 Miitchel Bakker

6 Odlion Kossounou

11 Nadiem Amiri

27 Florian Wirtz

31 Madi Monamay

33 Isaiah Okafor

34 Noah Pesch

37 Karim Bellarabi

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