Tonight the Europa League round of 32 kicks off for both these sides as Antwerp take on Rangers.
Antwerp got to this stage after finishing second in group J. A group which included Tottenham Hotspur, LASK and Ludogorets. They managed a 1-0 win against Tottenham but finished just short of top spot.
Rangers in comparison finished top of their group. A group that was seen as a fairly difficult one. The Scottish side finishing ahead of Benfica, Standard Liege and Lech Poznan. They continued their unbeaten league run in the Europa League having not lost a single game as of yet.
3″ Rangers attacking wide with Borna Barisic and win the first corner of the game after the ball is intercepted and put out. The common game plan from Rangers is going wide and getting the ball into the box from the full-backs. I’m sure we will see a lot more of that throughout this game.
4″ Early VAR check for handball. Nothing is given in this instance. VAR of course being used in the Europa League now with the start of the knockout stages. Could we see VAR play a strong part in this game?
10″ Antwerp shouldn’t be taken lightly by Rangers. This, having beaten Tottenham and come out of their group with four wins from six. They are seeing a lot of the ball early on and seem happy to keep possession.
13″ Felipe Avenatti lucky not to see yellow after a late foul on James Tavernier. Definitely caught Tavernier’s foot but the ref lets him off with a warning.
18″ Rangers looking shaky at the moment. Antwerp getting further up the pitch and taking advantage of any Rangers mistakes. Something needs to change for Steven Gerrard’s side even this early on.Embed from Getty Images
20″ Tavernier went in for a 50/50 – he won the ball but he is clearly hurt here. He tried to continue to play briefly but is sat down here. There were rumours in the week about Tavernier being hurt. Gerrard and Tavernier played it off as ‘fake news’. Irony or was there really some sort of injury?
25″ Will be interesting to see how Rangers do here without Tavernier. The Rangers captain has been involved in so much this season for Rangers including 13 goals.
29″ Huge chance for Rangers here. Alfredo Morelos gets in behind after a perfectly timed run. Well saved by Alireza Beiranvand but Morelos probably should have done better. Best chance of the game so far.
33″ Rangers now starting to cause more trouble. Especially with the balls in behind. Kemar Roofe with another chance which is wasted as he turns rather than having a go. Rangers certainly growing into the game now.
38″ GOAL! Antwerp 0 – 1 Rangers – Joe Aribo
A mistake from Beiranvand after doing so well to get to the ball ahead of Roofe. Morelos did very well to get to lay it off for Aribo to pass it into the net. Rangers take the lead.
In the last 12 games in which Aribo has scored, Rangers have not lost. 11 wins and one draw. Rangers will look to continue that fantastic record tonight.
44″ Barisic sees yellow – the first card of the game after a poorly timed challenge.
45″ GOAL! Antwerp 1 – 1 Rangers – Felipe Avenatti
The resulting free-kick is beautifully put in by Lior Refaelov. Avenatti got to the ball ahead of Barisic who was on the wrong side of his man. Poor defending from him. He gave Allan McGregor in goal absolutely no chance to save it.Embed from Getty Images
45+3″ Roofe now on the floor here. Again following a 50/50. He may need to come off now for Rangers just adding to the injury woes.
45+7 PENALTY! Antwerp win a penalty after Steven Davis fouls Refaelov in the box. A controversial decision by the referee after it appeared little contact was made. VAR check complete and it is a penalty.
45+8 GOAL! Antwerp 2-1 Rangers – Lior Refaelov
The penalty converted well. McGregor went the correct way but the strike too emphatic. Well taken penalty and Antwerp go into half time with the lead.Embed from Getty Images
Fairly even first half with both sides creating chances. Aribo gave Rangers a lead fairly late on in the half and it seemed as though they would hold it going into half time. However, Antwerp had other plans, scoring two goals including a penalty to turn the tide and go into the half 2-1 up.
Franky Vercauteren will go into the half happy with what his side have done. They have played fairly well often keeping the ball and creating chances. Despite Rangers pressing more and more forward as the half concluded. They have a goal lead to try and hold onto now. Can they cause another Europa League upset?
Gerrard will be frustrated despite seeming to start to take control as the half came to a close. The end of the half especially infuriating considering the controversial penalty decision. Still plenty to fight for in this one though.Embed from Getty Images
Second Half Kicks Off!
46″ This is only the 5th time this season that Rangers have conceded two or more. The others coming against Standard Liege, Benfica and Hibernian. Only once they have conceded more than two – that coming in a 3-3 draw with Benfica.
50″ Rangers will need to push if they want to get back into this game and although Antwerp are leading they will surely know they need to increase their lead. Especially ahead of the second leg.
53″ Ryan Kent sees yellow here. After a mistimed challenge.
54″ Big chance for Aribo on the counter-attack. Glen Kamara storming up the middle of the pitch and finding Aribo. The pass might have just been too far wide for him to get a decent shot off.
57″ Penalty call for Rangers here. Morelos appeared to be fouled in the box but play continues.
57″ The referee has stopped the game here and it seems as though he is going to check the screen for a possible penalty to Rangers.Embed from Getty Images
58″ PENALTY! Rangers given a penalty after the play comes back. Ritchie De Laet receives a yellow card as well to go along with it.
58″ GOAL! Antwerp 2 – 2 Rangers – Borna Barisic
Barisic steps up to take the penalty with Tavernier having come off earlier in the game. He puts it into the back of the net well despite Beiranvand getting a hand on it.Embed from Getty Images
Barisic’s 100th appearance for Rangers marked with a goal.
62″ Abdoulaye Seck sees yellow here after a dangerous challenge. He will miss the game at Ibrox after that which I’m sure he will be frustrated about.
64″ Plenty of yellow cards are being given here. Scott Arfield the next name going into the book following a high boot.
66″ GOAL! Antwerp 3 – 2 Rangers – Martin Hongla
Mistakes at the back from Rangers led to Hongla getting the ball and striking it beautifully into the back of the net from just outside of the D. No chance for McGregor who just stood in the middle of the goal as the ball flew past him. The ball may have taken a slight deflection off of Filip Helander but Hongla certainly won’t care.Embed from Getty Images
69″ Substitution for Antwerp – Frank Boya coming off for Birger Verstraete
74″ Substitution for Antwerp – Beiranvand coming off with an injury with Ortwin De Wolf coming on in the Antwerp goal.
80″ That was the chance to get back into it for Rangers. A beautiful ball in from Barisic which Ianis Hagi gets on the end of. He puts it wide though. He really should be scoring that chance.
82″ Gerrard is looking very frustrated on the touchline. Wasted chances and poor passes the story of Rangers’ game. They have dominated the play just can’t seem to find the end product to get back into it.Embed from Getty Images
83″ GOAL! Antwerp 3 – 3 Rangers – Ryan Kent
Absolutely outstanding from Kent and Rangers here. A one-two between Kent and Morelos leads to a brilliant strike into the top corner of the net. A fantastic finish from the substitute.
86″ Another chance for Rangers forcing a great save from De Wolf. Kent in again but can’t finish this time. The ball then going straight up the other end. A mistake from Aribo puts Antwerp through on goal. A brilliant save from McGregor again.
Could one of these sides pay for those missed chances come the end of the game? or even come the end of the two legs?
87″ This game could end with an unreal scoreline – more unreal than it already is. A good ball comes into the box from the freekick and the header is saved by McGregor. The rebound is cleared off the line by Ryan Jack preventing another goal.
88″ PENALTY! Again for Rangers. And RED CARD! Handball in the box by Seck. Huge mistake from him that could cost his team the game. He gets his second yellow card and is now off.
Hongla also saw yellow in the incident. This seems to be for language towards the referee.
89″ GOAL! Antwerp 3 – 4 Rangers – Borna Barisic
Barisic gets his second of the game and his second from the penalty spot. A great penalty this time sending De Wolf the wrong way.
90″ What a game this is! Back and forth and the referee has added on 6 more minutes. Is there time for another goal?
90+1″ Three substitutions for Antwerp – Martin Hongla, Lior Refaelov and Pieter Gerkens all coming off for Jérémy Pierre Gelin, Nana Opoku Ampomah and Koji Miyoshi.
90+3″ Miyoshi almost breaking the hearts of the Rangers team and fans here. He has a shot from outside the box and it hits the outside of the post. McGregor appeared to be beaten.
FULL TIME! Antwerp 3 – 4 Rangers
What a game! Absolutely unbelievable! The game was back and forth with plenty of goals. Seems hard to believe but that was only the first leg! These teams showing what the Europa League is all about with that classic contest. Rangers just about scraping the victory after a late penalty.
Antwerp will be disappointed that they couldn’t capitalise on their first-half lead. They played fairly well in this game but the mistakes they did make and the chances they missed certainly costing them come the end of it. They may go into the next leg slightly happy considering this performance though.
The Belgian side need a 2-0 win at Ibrox to go through without extra time or penalties. Considering this game I certainly wouldn’t count them out.Embed from Getty Images
Rangers had a game of ups and downs. In the end though, they dominated the majority of the ball (57% possession) and had more chances (15 shots, six on target). The performance certainly wasn’t perfect despite the win so they will need to try and improve going into the next leg.
Rangers have more leeway going into the next game though. As long as they don’t lose by two goals or more they should see themselves in the round of 16 draw. However, they definitely won’t be taking Antwerp for granted this time.
The second leg Rangers v Antwerp will take place on the 25th February 2021.Embed from Getty Images
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