Rangers stunned Borussia Dortmund in their Europa League play-off first leg at the Westfalenstadion, winning 4-2 and taking full control of the tie.
Dortmund had dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, and as such, would have been among the favourites to win the overall competition.
But their 1,000 game at the Westfalenstadion did not go to plan as Scottish Premiership champions Rangers picked up an impressive victory in Germany.
They raced into a quick 2-0 lead late in the first half. A superb use of VAR spotted a handball from Dan-Axel Zagadou from a Rangers corner, and after consulting the pitchside monitor, referee Clement Turpin awarded the visitors the penalty.
Gers captain James Tavernier (38) stepped up at the vital moment, and send Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel the wrong way with his spot-kick.
- Dortmund were unchanged after beating Union Berlin at the weekend. However, they remained without star striker Erling Haaland due to injury.
- Rangers made two changes from the side that beat Hibernian 2-0 in the Scottish Premiership last week. Leon Balogun and Glen Kamara dropped out of the side, with Borna Barisic and Ryan Jack back into the XI. Barisic was the only player to keep his spot from the team that faced Annan in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
Three minutes later, Alfredo Morelos added the second. Tavernier was involved again, with his corner flicked on by Joe Aribo at the near post. The Rangers striker was free towards the back to then poke the bouncing ball home (41).
There was another goal glut after the break too. John Lundstram (49) added Rangers’ third in superb fashion after Ryan Kent had once again beaten Manuel Akanji down the left. His cut-back was fired home by the midfielder, but Dortmund soon pulled a goal back.
Donyell Malen made a driving run into a packed box, with Akanji tapping the loose ball into Jude Bellingham’s path. The England international then fired the ball home past Allan McGregor (51).
VAR reared its head once again soon after as a fourth Rangers goal was initially flagged for offside. Dortmund and Zagadou (54) would have been sick of the sight of the referee looking at the monitor, but the replays showed that in fact, there was no offside as the defender turned Morelos’ shot into his own net.
The offside decision was overturned to send Rangers into a 4-1 lead and take a firm grip of the play-off time.
Dortmund: Kobel (6), Akanji (5), Hummels (6), Zagadou (4), Guerreiro (7), Dahoud (6), Witsel (6), Brandt (6), Reus (6), Bellingham (7), Malen (6).
Subs used: Reyna (6), Moukoko (5), Schulz (6), Tigges (6), Reinier (n/a).
Rangers: McGregor (6), Tavernier (7), Goldson (7), Bassey (8), Barisic (7), Jack (8), Lundstram (7), Kent (8), Arfield (6), Aribo (7), Morelos (7).
Subs used: Sands (6), Ramsey (n/a), Kamara (n/a), Wright (n/a).
Man of the match: Ryan Kent.
Dortmund did give themselves a lifeline late in the game. Raphael Guerreiro (82) shifted himself into some space and produced a fine finish of his own, hammering the ball past a rooted McGregor.
The result will go down as one of Rangers’ finest European results and see them take a huge step into the last-16 draw ahead of what is sure to be an enthralling tie at Ibrox next Thursday
Boyd: An outstanding Rangers performance
Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd:
“Rangers were outstanding. Even when they had to defend, they did. Right from the get-go, they were aggressive in the press to get after Borussia Dortmund.
“When you look at Borussia Dortmund, they’re second in the Bundesliga and Rangers have done there and beaten them in their own backyard. This is a team who were favourites to win the competition having dropped out of the Champions League.
“They’ve been good in terms of scoring goals, but defensively, there’s been signs there domestically that you can get at them and it’s something that Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his Rangers team have worked on. From set-plays, they managed to get a bit of joy.
“It’s an unbelievable night. Borussia Dortmund never really got going all night, but it’s only half-time.
“It’ll be back to Ibrox next week and it will be bouncing, but Rangers have showed that they’re more than capable at competing at this level.
“With no away goals, it helps Borussia Dortmund because coming to Ibrox and looking to score four goals would have been difficult. But when you look at them, they showed in spells tonight the attacking talent that they’ve got, they can cause you problems.
“Maybe it was just an off night, but you can’t take anything away from Rangers. They were outstanding tonight.”
Van Bronckhorst: We had the right attitude for a good result
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst:
“It’s a very good result for us against a big team in Europe. We wanted to take a result back with us to Glasgow for a good game next week. I think we achieved that with the two-goal difference.
“I’m really proud of the performance the players have shown today. We also know it’s only halfway, there is still another game to be played, but to come here and score four away goals in Europe is a very good achievement. I’m more than happy with the result and especially the performance.
“We also presented well as a club. We played against a quality side, got a good result and we’re going to have a good game next week at a full Ibrox.
“It’s difficult to get an away win in Europe, it’s not easy. As a manager, it’s the first time I’ve won away in Europe so it shows you how difficult it is. It’s a great night, but it’s only a great night. We’re not through to the next round, which we want, so we know we have to have a good performance next week as well. But we worked hard for it [tonight] and we deserved to win this game.
“We worked hard to get the right game plan. We watched a lot of Dortmund games and we knew that they were getting a lot of goals against them lately.
“I think we prepared for the game well, we had a lot of meetings with the players on the way Dortmund can play. We were prepared tactically and more importantly, mentally. We had the right attitude today to get a good result.”
Man of the match – Ryan Kent
You could have picked any number of Rangers players for the accolade, but Kent was a menace down the left wing and made Akanji look like a very average player. He picked up an assist for Lundstram’s goal and Rangers will need him in the same form for the return leg next week.
Opta stats – Rangers stun Dortmund
- In the UEFA Europa League (since 2009-10), only one side has ever won the first leg of a knockout tie by 2+ goals away from home and then not gone on to qualify: Real Betis vs Sevilla in 2013-14 (won 2-0 first leg, lost 2-0 second leg, lost on pens).
- Borussia Dortmund have conceded 4+ goals in consecutive home games in all competitions (2-5 vs Bayer Leverkusen, 2-4 tonight) for the first time since May/June 1983 (4-4 vs Bayern Munich, 4-6 vs Borussia Mönchengladbach).
- Rangers ended a run of eight away European matches in Germany without a win (D1 L7), with tonight their first since a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup in October 1998, a match which saw current manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst score the opening goal for the Gers.
- Alfredo Morelos became the all-time leading scorer for Rangers in major UEFA European competition (the competitions: European Cup, Champions League, Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Cup and Europa League) with 14 goals, overtaking Ralph Brand’s record of 13 goals between 1960 and 1964.
- John Lundstram scored his third Rangers goal in all competitions, with all three coming in different competitions: against Dunfermline Athletic in the Scottish League Cup, Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership and Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Europa League.
Borussia Dortmund are back in Bundesliga action when they welcome Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm. Rangers will also play live on Sky Sports on Sunday when they travel to Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership; kick-off 12pm.
The return leg will then be played at Ibrox on Thursday February 24.
Source : Sky Sports