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Rangers will have to come from behind in second leg after defeat to RB Leipzig
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were beaten 1-0 in their Europa League semi-final first leg.
Rangers will have to come from behind to reach the Europa League final after losing 1-0 to an agonisingly late RB Leipzig goal in the Red Bull Arena.
The Bundesliga outfit dominated possession in the first half of the semi-final first leg albeit Gers keeper Allan McGregor did not have a real save to make until Christopher Nkunku tested him soon after the break.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side came out of their shell more after the interval but also remained defensively disciplined for the most part until Spanish wing-back Angelino fired in the winner with five minutes remaining.
Rangers overcame a 1-0 first leg defeat against Braga in the last round and will look for another tumultuous night at Ibrox to see them through to their first European final in 14 years
First, there is the matter of an Old Firm game with Rangers going to Celtic Park on Sunday six points behind the cinch Premiership leaders with four fixtures remaining and the Hoops also enjoying an advantage in goal difference.
It is therefore a pivotal week for the Gers who turned in another tenacious performance in Europe.
With strikers Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe still out injured, Van Bronckhorst had again to adapt and in what looked like a 5-3-2 formation with midfielder John Lundstram moved back, he gave a start to Stephen Wright up front with Ryan Kent.
Joe Aribo, Kent, Lundstram, Ryan Jack and Calvin Bassey all returned for the Govan side while RB Leipzig boss Domenico Tedesco was without midfielder Kevin Kampl and defenders Willi Orban and Mohamed Simakan through suspension.
Star striker Nkunku led the line, backed by Spain winger Dani Olmo and Hungary’s Dominik Szoboszlai.
There were Rangers fans in most parts of the stadium, helping to create a terrific atmosphere but they watched their side chase shadows at the start.
A penalty claim when Nkunku could not get away from Gers defender Connor Goldson was ignored by French referee Benoit Bastien.
There was little respite for the Light Blues and in the 16th minute Bassey blocked a goal-bound shot from Nkunku before Goldson, with equal desperation, prevented Szoboszlai’s shot troubling McGregor.
With their first corner just before the half hour mark, Goldson headed Borna Barisic’s delivery over the bar but Rangers were soon defending again with skipper James Tavernier getting in the way of a terrific strike from Angelino.
With Aribo further up after the break, Rangers had their first real chance at the start of the second half when Kent worked some space in the RB Leipzig box and fizzed the ball across the front of skipper Peter Gulacsi’s goal but found no takers.
Tavernier then had a shot deflected for a corner but again Goldson headed over.
At the other end, McGregor beat away a drive from Nkunku – a reminder for the Govan men of the home side’s threat.
RB Leipzig took a grip and Rangers were again on the back foot but still the Ibrox side’s defence defended resolutely.
Fashion Sakala replaced Wright after 68 minutes and moved into the centre-forward position but moments later the visitors should have found themselves behind.
Nkunku burst into the Rangers box and rounded McGregor but with the goal gaping he hammered the ball over the bar – it was a huge let-off for the Light Blues.
In the 75th minute Gulacsi gathered a long-distance effort from Kent before Nkunku beat Bassey to a header but again missed the target and then McGregor tipped a shot from Tyler Adams over the bar.
From the corner Sakala headed clear but only to Angelino who volleyed past the Gers keeper from 20 yards to give the home side the advantage for the game in Glasgow.