Alfredo Morelos sinks Sparta Prague to send Rangers into knockout stage | Europa League

Managed, composed and convincing. Giovanni van Bronckhorst will face sterner challenges because the supervisor of Rangers – Sparta Prague supplied feeble opposition – however this has to be thought of a completely acceptable begin to his tenure. For good measure, following this dismissal of the Czechs, it was confirmed Rangers will progress to the knockout phases of the Europa League for a 3rd yr in succession. A lift, maybe, to the brand new supervisor’s January switch aspirations.

On a night stuffed with positives for Van Bronckhorst, the position of Alfredo Morelos was most notable. The striker, not unreasonably criticised for his kind already this season, scored twice and was a normal menace to the Sparta defence. Up to now, so good, for the previous Feyenoord supervisor’s regime. Rangers performed with zip, objective and aggression all through.

Having been afforded simply two days of full coaching together with his gamers, there was by no means a lot probability of Van Bronckhorst making a discernible distinction to what he inherited from Steven Gerrard for this tie. Rangers opened of their new supervisor’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. On Wednesday, the Dutchman had spoken boldly concerning the implementation of change but it solely appears truthful to assume this may require time.

Nonetheless, Rangers had been sharp from the outset. Van Bronckhorst was virtually handed the perfect begin. After fifth- minute trickery from Ryan Kent, so vital to Rangers’ attacking ploys, Joe Aribo swerved a shot off the Sparta crossbar. This early spell of dominance was quickly to be rewarded.


Morelos’s opening purpose was one among blissful simplicity. James Tavernier, the captain, slid a go although to Ianis Hagi. The Romanian was undoubtedly helped by ponderous defending however nonetheless did what was required, squaring the ball to his centre ahead. Morelos swept house his twenty sixth European purpose for Rangers with a minimal of fuss from 18 yards.

Any sense of ill-feeling within the stands proved unfounded. That was due in no small half to the tiny contingent from Prague; 63 at a tough depend. That Slavia Prague’s defender Ondrej Kudela was discovered responsible of racism in direction of Rangers’ Glen Kamara by Uefa throughout a sport right here final season ought to have had nothing to do with their metropolis rivals. Nonetheless, audible jeering of the Finnish midfielder as Rangers fell to a 1-0 defeat in opposition to Sparta in September fuelled a way of unease. On this first half, the Rangers help had a formidable on-field show to purr over.

Alfredo Morelos savours the moment after scoring Rangers’ second goal against Sparta Prague.
Alfredo Morelos savours the second after scoring Rangers’ second purpose in opposition to Sparta Prague. {Photograph}: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Pictures

Aribo ought to have doubled the lead, as an alternative someway lobbing broad of Dominik Holec’s purpose from an exquisite Hagi cross. Sparta finally produced some attacking intent 24 minutes in, Allan McGregor saving neatly together with his ft from Martin Minchev. The guests truly ended the interval strongly, with out additional troubling the veteran Rangers custodian. Rangers had been good worth for his or her interval lead.

Kent curled narrowly broad of the upright, two minutes after the restart, after a protracted Connor Goldson go. Sparta’s lack of ability to full the basics throughout what occurred subsequent allowed Rangers in for his or her second purpose.

This actually was ridiculous stuff. Having acquired a purpose kick inside his personal penalty space, Filip Panak inexplicably determined it was a good suggestion to attempt to chip the ball again to Holec. The difficulty was, Morelos was lurking. The striker had a easy of activity to intercept and nod the ball into the unguarded Sparta internet. Laughter combined with celebration among the many Rangers help. Kent ought to have settled issues when despatched clear by means of, Holec as an alternative denying the previous Liverpool man together with his ft.

Rangers now had their essential head-to-head benefit over Sparta in Group A. It was instructive, then, that Van Bronckhorst’s males seemed eager on including to their benefit slightly than defending it. Holec used his decrease half once more, this time to block a shot from the spinning and hat-trick-seeking Morelos.

Information that Lyon had solid forward in opposition to Brondby made Rangers’ activity easy. Maintaining of a clear sheet, considerably problematic on this marketing campaign, would seal qualification. Adam Karabec missed an excellent likelihood to burst Van Bronckhorst’s bubble with a again submit header. McGregor produced an excellent double save from Ladislav Krejci and Matej Pulkrab. Ibrox rose to acclaim the goalkeeper. On the full-time whistle, Van Bronckhorst stood entrance and centre. Onwards, to home duties.

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