Rangers and Europa league group campaign with draw in Lyon
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is satisfied with how his “brave” Rangers side are picking up his style of play after they earned a creditable Europa League draw in France against Lyon.
Scott Wright’s deflected strike was cancelled out by Calvin Bassey’s own goal, but the visitors dug in to ensure the new boss’ unbeaten start continued.
The Ibrox side excelled in large spells against the runaway Group A winners.
“I’m very happy with the message we showed,” Van Bronckhorst said.
“It’s only my fifth game in charge; I’m happy they’re picking up my style of play. We played our possession game from the back and many times we had the right solutions.”
Rangers had already secured the runners-up spot in the section ahead of Sparta Prague and will meet one of eight Champions League dropouts in the play-off round next.
The Ibrox club will find out their opponents in Monday’s draw, with the winners of the two-legged affair progressing to the last-16 stage.
Rangers last trip to Lyon in 2007 saw Walter Smith’s men shock their star-studded hosts 3-0 in the group stage of the Champions League.
Over 14 years on, Peter Bosz’s current team boasts its share of talent and even though the result would not have any bearing on both sides’ positions the group, the game provided the toughest assignment of Van Bronckhorst’s nascent tenure.
The Dutchman’s players made a bright start but Lyon also showed their threat when former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele scuffed a lofted effort after a fine clipped pass from Xherdan Shaqiri.
But Rangers also flexed their muscles in attack. Ryan Kent beat his man with a lovely nutmeg before sliding in Kemar Roofe, who tried to catch out Julian Pollersbeck with a snap shot that clipped the outside of the near post.
Rangers were the dominant force as the first half progressed, Ianis Hagi dragging an ambitious shot wide before Borna Barisic having an effort from the edge of the area go straight down the throat of the home goalkeeper.
The goal they deserved came, however, as Kent’s delightful dink found Glen Kamara on the bye-line. The Finland midfielder then dragged a pass back to Wright, whose strike took a nick and left Pollersbeck flat-footed.
Lyon ramped it up after the interval and equalised three minutes into the second half when impressive teenager Rayan Cherki’s cross deflected in off Bassey.
The Rangers backline continued to be pressured as Tino Kadewere struck narrowly wide and Leo Dubois forced Jon McLaughlin to claw over.
The resulting corner saw young defender Castello Lukeba glance a header just past, while fellow centre-back Damien da Silva had his own headed effort take a nick and drift just shy of goal.
Rangers had half chances on the break through Nathan Patterson and Joe Aribo, but the second half was about their defence standing firm, and they were called into action again when Islam Slimani forced McLaughlin into a smart late save.
What did they say?
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “We’re very happy with the performance, especially away from home in Europe. It can be really tough.
“We were very brave. In the second half we didn’t create too many chances, but overall I’m really happy with the performance.”
What did we learn?
Van Bronckhorst will have learned a lot about his fringe players against tough opposition.
Scotland right-back Patterson had a couple of nervy moments early in the game, but eye-catching runs forward and an improved defensive showing in the second half gives the Ibrox boss something to think about.
It is now five games unbeaten for the Dutch manager and centre-back pairing Connor Goldson and Bassey have started in every one of those, picking up three clean sheets along the way.
After another impressive display, the pair could be vital for Van Bronckhorst going forward.
- Rangers have progressed past the group stages of the Europa League in three of the four seasons they’ve been in the competition from the beginning (2019-20, 2020-21 & 2021-22), only failing to make it out of the groups in 2018-19.
- Lyon are unbeaten in 11 home matches in Europe (W4 D7). It’s their longest unbeaten home run since an 18-game stretch in the Champions League between September 2003 and December 2006 (W12 D6).
- Rangers are winless in six away games in Europe (D4 L2), with only 10 goals being scored in total across those matches. They last went on a longer winless run between May 2008 and July 2018 (14 games).
- Wright’s opener was his first goal in Europe for Rangers (5th app) and their first goal from outside the box in the competition this term.
- Rangers have scored three own goals in this season’s Europa League – no side has put through their own net on more occasions in a single UEFA Cup/Europa League campaign.
Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action on Sunday (12:00 GMT) as they travel to Tynecastle to play Hearts.