Rangers v Alashkert, Europa League Play Offs, 1st Leg 19 August 2021
By Sheryl Ritchie
Steven Gerrard agreed with popular demand and started the match with Filip Helander and Calvin Bassey in the line-up.
In the first ten minutes Rangers were lively with Hagi, Aribo and Bassey all showing but in general play was scrappy.
Rangers had much of the ball for the first 20 minutes but to little effect – in fact they wee nearly caught out ion the 18th when Jose Embalo was slipped the ball in a great position to strike only for him to trip his feet over the ball.
Almost immediate Rangers retaliated at the far end of the pitch. Hagi winning the ball and putting in through to the onrushing Kent who hit it off the bar.
Apart from the occasional attack most of the action in the first 30 minutes was in the Alashkert half – the 30 minutes came to an end with an ineffectual shot from Steve Davis as the crowd’s anxiousness started to grow.
Rangers started to gain ground – a shot coming in from Kent signalled the change in pressure and possession in the 37th minute. A Hagi free kick was cleared but immediately recycled and more pressure applied.
In the 42nd minute John Lundstrum was sent off for a seemingly innocuous foul on Embalo whom he was caught on the wrong side of – he was booked for the first time eight minutes earlier for another soft foul on captain Grigoryan.
Right on half time Bassey got a great shot in that was saved and was they brought down by Gome inside the box but no penalty was given.
Kent was subbed at half time for Scott Wright who had an immediate effect and was very unlucky not to win a penalty in the 55th minute in a clash with the onrushing keeper.
Morelos was unlucky not to put Rangers ahead in the 58th minute with a glancing shot that came at the end of a move utilising Goldson, Hagi and Tavernier. Again in the 60th his header from a Hagi shot went just wide as the crowd rallied behind the team. And again in the 64th his shot from a Wright pass was just taken off his toes by the defender,
In 67 minutes the pressure paid off – In a move started by Tavernier he took a long lobbed pass from the captain which left him one on one with the goalkeeper – he unhurriedly stood him up then smashed the ball underneath him and into the back of the net.
Rangers were a much changed team in the second half with great performances from Hagi, Wright and Arfield.
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Bassey, Lundstram, Davis, Aribo (Arfield, 80), Hagi (Kelly, 90), Kent (Wright, 45), Morelos (Itten, 83)
SUBS NOT USED: McLaughlin, McCrorie, Simpson, Patterson, Balogun, Barisic.
ALASHKERT: Cancarevic, Cameta, Voskanyan, Kadio, Hovsepyan, Embalo, Grigoryan (Bezecourt, 75), Khurtsidze (Gilsic, 80), Boljevic, Papilkyan (Gome, 8), James (Edigaryan, 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Aghekyan, Tankov.