Giovanni van Bronckhorst said Rangers played with “passion, desire and fire” as his side produced a stunning comeback to beat Union Saint-Gilloise 3-2 on aggregate in their Champions League qualifier and book their place in the play-off round, where they will face PSV Eindhoven.
After losing 2-0 in Belgium last week, Van Bronckhorst’s men faced Ibrox, but James Tavernier’s (45) penalty just before the break gave them hope.
Thirteen minutes after the break, Rangers leveled on aggregate thanks to Antonio Colak’s header before Malik Tillman completed the comeback (78) to send the home side through to the play-offs.
There was a brief concern before Tillman’s winner when James Sands was shown a second yellow card for a last-ditch challenge, but the decision was overturned by the linesman.
And it was the visitors who would end up ending the game with 10 men when Lazare Amani was sent off just seconds from time and Rangers secured a memorable victory.
They will face PSV, who beat Monaco 4-3 after extra time, in next week’s play-off with the winner of the tie progressing to the Champions League group stage.
“We know we’re capable of putting on great nights for the club. But you still have to do it again and again,” Van Bronckhurst said.
“That’s why I’m so proud of my players, the way they play, with passion, with desire, with fire to go to the next round.”
How the Rangers made history
Rangers had never overcame a 2-0 defeat away from home in the first leg of a European match before this match. Some of the games last season at Ibrox when they reached the Europa League final were epic and this one reached similar heights.
There was pre-match excitement surrounding the return of Gers winger Ryan Kent from an ankle sprain, with left-back Borna Barisic and midfielder Scott Arfield also back, while Ridvan Yilmaz, Scott Wright and Steven Davis fell to the bench.
Alfredo Morelos, who came off the bench to score in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Kilmarnock after a five-month absence with a thigh injury, started again as a substitute but felt that the Colombian striker would be necessary. sometime.
Cheered on by their enthusiastic but sometimes restless fans, the Rangers quickly looked to upset USG, who were unchanged from the first leg.
Tillman headed a Tom Lawrence corner past the near post before Colak headed Tavernier’s free-kick over the bar.
The visitors, meanwhile, barely got out of their half, but with the first corner on 19 minutes, defender Siebe Van der Heyden glanced Simon Adingra’s delivery just past the far post and Ibrox took a breather relieved
In the 28th minute, Union Saint-Gilloise goalkeeper Anthony Moris reacted quickly to tip Colak’s header over the bar from a fantastic Lawrence free-kick and the visitors held on again .
It looked as though they would see themselves out of the first half, but they were undone in the 44th minute when referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos deemed Barisic’s deep cross into the box to have hit Van Der Heyden’s arm and Tavernier sent Moris off wrong way with your point. kick and the Champions League dream was on.
The Rangers pressed again from the start of the second half and again USG went back on defense looking to jump on the counter.
The second goal came when Lawrence’s pass from the left found Tavernier inside the box and he cut the ball back to Arfield. The midfielder’s drive from 16 yards was parried by Moris and Colak was first to the loose ball to head home from a yard as Ibrox once again exploded in noise and colour.
USG moved and moments later Moris had to dive to his right to ward off a decent drive from Gers midfielder John Lundstram.
Rabbi Matondo replaced Arfield in the 64th minute and the game began to stretch with open spaces.
USG tried to come out of their shell and Light Blues goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin ran from his goal to thwart Adingra, who was beaten by Loic Lapoussin.
Then came Rangers’ third when Barisic’s cross into the box saw Tillman rise early and over Moris to head into the empty net.
Ben Davies and Morelos immediately replaced James Sands and Colak and Moris rushed from his own goal to deny Morelos 35 yards out after the striker had been deflected by Kent, whose cross from the left minutes later he had just dodged Morelos.
Amani, booked in the 75th minute, was sent off after picking up a second yellow to complete an extraordinary night in Govan.
“Passion, desire and fire” delights Van Bronckhorst
Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst:
“We needed a big performance and the pressure was on us after last week.
“We know we are capable of delivering great nights for the club, but you still have to do it again and again.
“That’s why I’m so proud of my players, the way they play, with passion, with desire, with fire to go to the next round.
“It’s the only way to be on the pitch, to create the atmosphere we created with the fans today.
“It was an amazing night for all of us.”
Van Bronckhorst admitted his heart was in his mouth at 2-0 in the second half when referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos showed defender Sands a second yellow card for a tackle, before changing his mind after consulting his line judge
The Dutchman, who was unhappy with a penalty awarded to USG in last week’s 2-0 defeat in Belgium, said: “We knew last week it wasn’t a penalty, which made it harder for us .
“Today I was happy with the decisions of the referee, of course it was in our favor.
“There was a moment in the second half with James Sands, I said, ‘This could be a very important moment for the game.’ It was good that he didn’t give the yellow card and gave us the ball.
“We want to be in the Champions League and I saw the desire in my players.”
The former Feyenoord player and manager was looking forward to playing against PSV, coached by his compatriot Ruud van Nistelrooy.
He said: “It’s a familiar team for me. It’s great to see Ruud van Nistelrooy, there are so many familiar faces again.
“I was assistant to (PSV assistant) Fred Rutten at Feyenoord a couple of years ago.
“It will be nice to be back in Holland after so many months in Glasgow, but we will prepare well.
“It’s a great opportunity to take the last hurdle and play in the Champions League.”
Geraerts: The penalty was a turning point
Head of the Union Saint-Gilloise Karel Geraerts:
“Yes, until that moment, everything was under control.
“We were aware of the first 20 minutes because everyone said they were going to start really strong.
“We controlled it very well and when you lose a goal it is difficult to get the same scenario in the second half.
“The second goal gave the opposition more confidence and the third… there was a problem in defense but they made the most of the opportunity.”
What’s next for the Rangers?
rangers will return to Scottish Premiership action on Saturday as hosts St. Johnstone at Ibrox; start at 3pm. Then they travel to hibernian the following weekend, a match you can watch live Sky Sports Football; start 12.30 p.m.
#Rangers #Union #SaintGilloise #Tot #hosts #return #Champions #League #qualification #book #place #playoff