Home Sports Rangers 2-2 Borussia Dortmund: James Tavernier brace sees Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side win

Rangers 2-2 Borussia Dortmund: James Tavernier brace sees Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side win

63
0


When push came to shove Rangers had to be true to themselves. Clinging to the fruits of a sublime first leg simply wasn’t working. Against a flakey Borussia Dortmund side attack was always the safest form of defence.

At half-time Ibrox was a tense pensive place. Trailing 5-2 on aggregate after James Tavernier’s penalty after 21 minutes a highly motivated Borussia Dortmund side rallied.

A Connor Goldson mistake gifted an equaliser to Jude Bellingham. Dutch attacker Donyell Malen slid the Bundesliga giants into the lead three minutes before the interval. But for the heroics of Allan McGregor the tie could have been level on aggregate by the halfway point.

James Tavernier scored twice to ensure Rangers qualified for next round of Europa League

James Tavernier scored twice to ensure Rangers qualified for next round of Europa League

The game needed a different Rangers to come out for the second half and it got one. Faced with a choice of stick or twist Giovanni van Bronckhurst coaxed his players to twist. And the outcome was beyond his wildest dreams.

They pressed higher up the pitch. They were aggressive and hard to contain. Alfredo Morelos found a whole new level.

So it was, then, that they pressed World Cup winner Mats Hummels into the mistake which gifted a second goal to James Tavernier. But for an awful decision by Spanish referee Santaigo Latre on the advice of VAR Ryan Kent would have claimed the winner. On the basis of their displays over two legs it would have been no more than Rangers deserved. This was, in the end, a quite outstanding triumph.

Favourites to win the competition the damage was done for Dortmund in a 4-2 defeat in the first leg. Even without the injured Erling Haaland they were better here. There was a slick motivation missing in a laboured first leg when Rangers exposed their defensive frailties. And even then it was nowhere near enough to stop Scotland’s champions reaching the last 16 for a third successive year.

Scottish side go through after beating Borussia Dortmund 6-4 on aggregate

Scottish side go through after beating Borussia Dortmund 6-4 on aggregate

There were times in an edgy, uncomfortable first half when Rangers rode their luck. An early Dortmund goal would have rendered Ibrox a seething pit of nerves and it was inches away from coming in five minutes when Jude Bellingham, the brilliant young Englishman, struck the post from the first corner of the game.

Somehow Rangers survived. And the opening goal after 21 minutes – and a ropey start to the game – felt like the answer to a prayer. VAR was the driving force for James Tavernier’s strike from the spot in the Signal Iduna Stadium. Here the Spanish referee was confident enough in his own judgement to award the penalty when Julien Brandt dangled a lazy leg over Ryan Kent on the edge of the area as the winger was heading away from goal. The captain Tavernier lashed the ball high into the net from 12 yards giving keeper Gregor Kobel no chance.

The lead lasted all of nine minutes before Dortmund struck back. A Connor Goldson error gifted Dortmund their leveller after half an hour.

Donyell Malen was an absolute menace in yellow, his low whipped centre unlikely to reach its intended target until Goldson swung at the clearance and played it straight into the path of an unmarked Bellingham. There might be no *good* Dortmund player to gift an easy chance to, but Bellingham was surely the worst misfortune of all. Showing poise and composure the youngster slotted past McGregor for 1-1.

Donyell Malen was on the scoresheet for Dortmund but it wasn't enough to help them win

Donyell Malen was on the scoresheet for Dortmund but it wasn’t enough to help them win

Rangers blew a double chance to regain the lead minutes later. Scott Arfield won the break of the ball to ghost through the Dortmund defence, but failed to get his shot past Kobel. Even then the loose ball spilled to Morelos who looked certain to move one Europa League strike closer to Henrik Larsson until his rasping shot was blocked on the line by Mats Hummels.

How costly the missed opportunity would feel when Dortmund turned the game on its head before half-time. Far more crisp and purposeful than they ever were at home everything travelled through the Dutch attacker Donyell Malen. But for Allan McGregor the former PSV player could have overhauled the aggregate lead before the half-time whistle.

The keeper was at full stretch to push away a fizzing Malen strike from 18 yards. He could do nothing about the deft finish which put Dortmund ahead for the first time. The 3000 visiting fans burst to life when a Brandt cross was flicked on by Bellingham, Malen guiding the ball low past McGregor from close range.

At that point you could almost see the team in yellow raise their nose and smell blood in the Glasgow air.

Rangers are now through to the Round of 16 of the Europa League following 2-2 draw

Rangers are now through to the Round of 16 of the Europa League following 2-2 draw

Malen cut inside Tavernier and fired into the sidenetting when he looked certain to make it three. With the last action of the half Thomas Meunier drifted into space to guide a shot towards the top corner, McGregor once again at full stretch to keep Rangers heads above water. The only mercy for Rangers was the failure to add at least one more before half-time. The chance to regroup and fix things was timely and fully embraced.

Under the cosh for so long Rangers came out fighting. They pressed higher up the pitch and showed more menace in attacking areas. They hassled and harried their visitors into mistakes. In Morelos they had a force of nature on their side.

Twice the striker bullied and tormented his opponents in the opening minutes. Going it alone the first time he smashed into the side-netting. For the second he plucked a looping ball out of the air and forced Kobel into a fine save. Those efforts rallied the Rangers support.

Faced with a tricky psychological bind after the first leg the Ibrox side were now doing what they do best. Attacking a Dortmund team incapable of keeping toddlers from a sweet shop was always the best policy.

James Tavernier’s second goal of the night came after 57 minutes and stemmed from an awful mistake from veteran World Cup winner Hummels.

The roof almost came off Ibrox when Rangers should have regained the lead in the second half

The roof almost came off Ibrox when Rangers should have regained the lead in the second half

Brilliant persistence from Calvin Bassey on the left touchline resulted in a cross being thrust into the mixer. At his peak Hummels would have dealt with it comfortably. On the evidence of these two games against Rangers those days passed some time ago. Missing it completely the ball ran through to Tavernier to lash home from close tange at the back post.

The roof almost came off Ibrox when Rangers should have regained the lead – and settled the tie- 10 minutes later.

Pressing Emre Can to distraction Morelos nicked the ball on the halfway line. Racing in on goal the striker rolled the ball sideways to Kent. Not so fast said the VAR officials.

As Dortmund players screamed for a foul on Can the Spanish referee went to the pitchside monitor as Ibrox fell into a state of sober silence. The goal was chalked off and Dortmund breathed again.

Replays later showed that, if anything, the Dortmund player kicked Morelos. As an argument rages over the cost of introducing VAR to Scottish football it was a moment likely to harden the conviction of some that, whatever the cost, it’s simply not worth it.

 

Previous articleBBC skewered by Sandi Toksvig for past 'political correctness' fail: 'Because I'm a woman'
Next articleTurkey faces financial HELL: Embattled Erdogan reeling as 'bread basket' Ukraine CUT OFF

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here