The Europa League dream remains alive for Rangers – but there is plenty of work to do after a narrow first leg loss to RB Leipzig.
Deprived of an acclaimed striker by injuries to Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side produced a largely resolute display against the in-form Bundesliga side.
The hosts needed a spectacular late volley from full-back Angelino to break through Ibrox’s plucky rear guard, giving Leipzig a slim advantage ahead of a successful return to Ibrox next week.
The eyes of the media around the world turned to the Red Bull Arena as Rangers moved in to frustrate Domenico Tedesco’s side – and it was an approach which, perhaps harshly, drew mixed reviews.
One outlet remarked that ‘only one team wanted to attack’, while another claimed Van Bronckhorst’s ‘ultra defensive’ side will have to change tactics next week.
But many acknowledged that Rangers were mostly limiting a very dangerous outfit to very little chance of holding the tie in the balance on a huge night in front of a boisterous Ibrox crowd.
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It was noted that Allan McGregor had very few saves to make in the 90 minutes – although the veteran keeper has earned a nickname he may not find too flattering.
Here is a selection of reactions from the world of football.
A superb volley from Angelino gave RB Leipzig a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final with Rangers on Thursday.
Domenico Tedesco’s men were the aggressors for much of the game, but the Bundesliga side struggled to create chances against a resolute Gers back line, until the former left-back struck of Manchester City with five minutes remaining.
Leipzig dangerman Christopher Nkunku – who has 30 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season – couldn’t add to his tally, with the visitors keeping the Frenchman relatively quiet at the Red Bull Arena.
It wasn’t quite the famous night in Germany Rangers had earlier in the campaign when they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 at Signal Iduna Park, but with a one-goal deficit it leaves the tie open ahead of the return game at Ibrox. next week.
The Guardian (London)
A stunning late Angelino winner was a sick one…but not *too* much of one. Rangers are still well within this tie and next week’s return game is shaping up to be a belt!
A result, therefore, which both parties will find reasons to be encouraged. Rangers opened up more in the second half – Kent’s cross shot was their best moment – but an below-par Leipzig created more too and Nkunku missed some great chances, including a pretty incredible keeper. So the result was fair but, with a bit more attacking push at Ibrox, there’s no reason it couldn’t be reversed. It’s always on.
“I scored better goals,” Angelino said dryly.
But perhaps the 20-yard volley that led to the 1-0 Europa League semi-final first leg win over Glasgow Rangers was perhaps one of the most important goals of the career of the 25 year old player. This gives Leipzig a head start in the second leg in a week at the legendary Ibrox stadium.
It can only be good for the game. Because in front of their own supporters, the Scottish champions cannot accumulate 90 minutes around their own penalty area if they want to reach the final in Seville on May 18.
The Team (France)
Long blocked by a solid formation of Rangers, RB Leipzig ended up winning and taking a small option for the Seville final.
With a masterful volley with his left foot in the 85th minute, Angelino put the German team back in front before the return which promises to be boiling in Scotland.
Leipzig had overall control of the ball and the game against a close-knit Scotsman who had clearly come to Germany to play the draw and the counters.
Result: not a shot on target at the break, the first having taken place in the 53rd minute on an attempt by… Nkunku, still him.
The French international then missed a huge chance, alone in front of goal, as he erased Lundstram and dribbled past the goalkeeper.
It was finally Angelino who unblocked the situation five minutes from the end. The Spaniard was on the receiving end of a cleared ball for a corner and he sent a shot from the left in a half-volley which came to lodge in the small net.
Thanks to Angelino’s fine volley, RB Leipzig have a good chance of reaching the Europa League final. Domenico Tedesco would have preferred Rangers to be a bit more attacking in the first leg.
It was clear to Domenico Tedesco that Glasgow Rangers would not play for possession at RB Leipzig.
However, Leipzig were a bit surprised that Giovanni van Bronckhorst set up his team as defensively as he did, namely with a 5-3-2 that was deep in his own half. “It’s brutal,” he read Tedesco’s lips in the first half as his side simply couldn’t find a hole in the Scottish defence.
RB now take the 1-0 up at the Ibrox stadium.
Tedesco doesn’t assume Rangers will initially change direction there: “Maybe not from the start. But at some point they have to come,” said the 36-year-old, who with RB doesn’t is only one step away from the second final. in this season alone is removed.
For the Sevilla final to be perfect, Leipzig must “play very smartly” in Glasgow according to goalkeeper Gulacsi. The backdrop of the Ibrox Stadium has helped Rangers on several occasions this season, with around 7,000 fans invited to Leipzig already at the stadium.
“There are better moods, I’ll be honest,” Tedesco was unimpressed with the general support in the Red Bull Arena.
Leipzig takes a first step towards the Europa League final. In a tight game, with only one team determined to attack, Angeliño found a hole to squeeze through to break resistance from an ultra-defensive Rangers.
The Scots are betting everything on the second leg, and maybe there, with more attacking Rangers, Leipzig will find the match they were desperately looking for today.
For a long time it looks like a 0:0. Because Leipzig superstar Christopher Nkunku is missing a huge opportunity. In the 70th minute, the French bypassed the gray goalkeeper Grandpa McGregor of Glasgow (40th), but hit the ball next to the corner (70th). Matches the striker’s current losing streak: he hasn’t scored a goal for over 300 minutes. Before that, he scored 30 goals in 3501 minutes which means he scored every 117 minutes.
RB boss Oliver Mintzlaff (46) after the game on RTLplus: “We wouldn’t be here without Christopher. He is having a fantastic season for us, he is a world-class player. I will forgive him for not having done something like that.”
Glasgow, which eliminated Borussia Dortmund 4-2 and 2-2 in the playoffs in February, was far too harmless up front. Nearly 5,000 fans in the stands shout their Rangers forward. Only 2,400 tickets were officially given out to guests. There are even 7,500 followers in the city. Among them are around 500 Hamburger SV fans who celebrate thanks to a fan friendship.