Rousing Rangers stun Union to make play-offs

by 24britishtvAug. 9, 2022, 11 p.m. 21
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Last updated on .From the section Champions League

Rangers roared into the Champions League play-offs after they overcame Union Saint-Gilloise and a two-goal first-leg defeat in a rousing showing.

While blunt in the first leg, Rangers were by far the better team in Glasgow against a Union side who had Lazare Amani sent off late on.

Tavernier's penalty and Colak's close-range header set up a tense finale, before Tillman's fantastic 79th-minute header put Rangers ahead in the tie for the very first time during a strong second half.

They will now face PSV Eindhoven in the play-offs as they bid to return to the group stage for the first time since season 2010-11.

It is the first time Rangers have ever overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit to progress in Europe.
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The hosts started well, as they did in Belgium seven days ago. The Ibrox atmosphere, which Rangers have come to rely upon on such nights, seemed to have shaken the opposition. That is no slight on Union - many bigger European teams have also wilted under that pressure.

Colak headed just over early on before he had another effort tipped above the bar by Anthony Moris. Set-pieces were Rangers' strength in the first half, but they were unable to unlock a stubborn Union defence in open play.

That was until Siebe van der Heyden stretched an arm to block a looping cross in the box, and Tavernier did what Tavernier does - slotting from the spot on the stroke of half-time. His 16th goal in European competition for Rangers, and one that was timed to perfection.

The second just before the hour brought Ibrox to its feet in a scene of hysteria. Getting on the end of a Tillman flick, Tavernier ghosted in behind to square. The ball fell to Scott Arfield who forced a fantastic save from Moris, but Colak showed predatory instincts to nod in from a yard out and level the tie.

From there, it felt inevitable that Rangers would find a third. John Lundstram went close when Tom Lawrence teed him up, but Moris produced a flying save to deny the midfielder.

There was a moment of doubt when James Sands appeared to be heading down the tunnel early after clearing a poor pass from John McLaughlin - but referee Tasos Sidiropoulos changed his mind after consulting the far side assistant.

That was the kick Rangers needed and soon they would be ahead. Borna Barisic's hanging cross looked destined for Moris' arms, but Tillman produced an acrobatic leap to steal in front of the keeper and nod into an empty net.

Union midfielder Amani was then sent off in the dying seconds as the game raged frantically, with Rangers advancing after a breath-taking two legs.

Rangers rely on Ibrox atmosphere to grind down Union's will

Even trailing by two goals, plenty of Rangers fans headed to Ibrox confident of a result. They had witnessed enough European evening evidence in the last year to calm their nerves.

Proved right, there were still moments throughout the night that would have tested their resolve. Union, as they did in the first leg, waited to pounce but their attacking potency had almost evaporated.

So instead of a disaster, this will be remembered as a scare. But their next opponents in PSV will not be as forgiving. However, with Ibrox able to rouse such spirited performances from this Rangers team, the club's supporters will be dreaming of another memorable season in Europe.

Rangers host St Johnstone on Saturday (15:00 BST) as they look to maintain their 100% record in the league so far.
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