Update: SBS Sport website to
become home
of all our sport
content on 09/08/2021.

Gerrard's Rangers thump Antwerp to book last-16 spot

Steven Gerrard Source: AAP

Nathan Patterson repaid the faith shown in him by Steven Gerrard with a goal as Rangers beat Royal Antwerp 5-2 to reach the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League.

Rangers scored two late goals last week to take a slender lead into Thursday's reverse fixture and extended their lead inside nine minutes through Alfredo Morelos' strike en route to a 9-5 aggregate victory.

Lior Refaelov added to his goal and two assists from the first leg by equalising for Antwerp in Glasgow, but substitute Patterson - given a reprieve by Gerrard after his recent breach of coronavirus protocols - made an instant impact to put the Gers back in front.

Ryan Kent gave the hosts more breathing space nine minutes later and although Didier Lamkel Ze pulled one back another for Antwerp, Borna Barisic and Cedric Itten netted late penalties as Rangers reached the last 16 for the second year running.

Kent was among the scorers in the gripping first leg and was involved from the off here, testing Ortwin De Wolf with a low drive before picking Jeremy Gelin’s pocket and setting up Morelos for a simple finish.

Rangers had won just one of their four Europa League knockout matches at Ibrox and they were pegged back by Refaelov's deft finish following some good play out wide from Jordan Lukaku.

Gerrard replaced Leon Balogun with Patterson at the interval and that paid instant dividends as the teenage right-back, a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad, got in behind and picked out the bottom corner 16 seconds after being brought on.

Morelos then repaid the favour to Kent for the earlier assist by knocking the ball past Martin Hongla and crossing for his team-mate to finish, giving Rangers a three-goal advantage on aggregate.

Antwerp, competing in their first major European knockout match since 1994-95, gave themselves hope thanks to Lamkel Ze's tap-in following a comical coming together between Connor Goldson and Allan McGregor.

But Rangers extended their lead through Barisic's penalty - awarded for Maxime Le Marchand's trip on Morelos - which was followed up by another from the spot in the closing stages, converted by Itten.

 

What does it mean? Gers still fighting on two fronts

Rangers require just seven points from their remaining eight Scottish Premiership fixtures to end their title drought, but supporters will be equally as excited about this latest European run.

Following the script of previous Gers games in Europe this season, not least last week's incredible 4-3 win in Belgium, Gerrard's men provided plenty of entertainment against Antwerp as they advanced in style.

This was the highest-scoring two-legged tie in the UEFA Cup/Europa League since Helsingborgs beat Heerenveen 8-6 in the 2007-08 first round, and Rangers' reward is a place in the hat for Friday's draw in Nyon.

Patterson begins road to redemption

Calvin Bassey, Bongani Zungu and Patterson were all named in the squad after publicly apologising for breaching coronavirus rules by attending a house party earlier this month.

With James Tavernier injured and back-up Balogun enduring a torrid first half, Patterson was brought on at half-time and wasted no time in putting Rangers back in front.

The youngster also completed all 10 of his passes, four of those in the Antwerp half.

More Calamitous defending from Rangers

Gerrard admitted to having mixed feeling after last week's win after seeing his side concede three times. Both goals in this return leg were also avoidable, with Lukaku taking on Balogun far too easily for the opener and Lamkel Ze profiting from a mix-up for the second.

Balogun was sacrificed at the midway point after losing possession 12 times, while Goldson, Filip Helander and Barisic will surely not be particularly pleased with their defensive displays, even if the latter papered over the cracks with a late penalty.

Key Opta facts:

- Rangers have won each of their last four games in the Europa League – their best winning run in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) since they won five on the bounce in March 1969 in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

- The Glasgow giants have won 19 of their 20 home games in all competitions this season (D1), scoring 57 and conceding just nine goals in the process.

- Morelos has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last seven appearances in all competition, scoring five and assisting six.

- Kent's assist for Morelos was his ninth of the season in all competitions - as many as he provided in both 2018-19 (6) and 2019-20 (3) combined. He also scored his 10th goal of the season, the first time he has reached double figures in a campaign in all competitions in his professional career.

What's next?

Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action next Wednesday with a trip to Livingston, while Antwerp head to Leuven in the Belgian First Division on Monday.

Source Omnisport