Now Playing

Now Playing IconNow Playing:

Evolve Radio

Artist Name

Album Art

Benfica end Rangers’ Europa League hopes

Rangers crashed out of the Europa League after a 1-0 home defeat to Benfica, exiting Europe’s second-tier competition 2-3 on aggregate.

Philippe Clement’s side were full of confidence after a dramatic 2-2 draw in Lisbon in the first leg and had the best of the first half as the rain lashed down at Ibrox.

Cyriel Dessers came close to opening the scoring before the visitors took advantage of some poor defending.

Rafa Silva pounced on a ball on the halfway line and raced clear before firing past Jack Butland. The offside flag was up but the goal was awarded after a lengthy VAR check.

The result sends Benfica into Friday’s quarter-final draw while Rangers’ attention returns to domestic duties and their bid to clinch the Scottish Premiership title.

How Rangers’ Europa League journey ended

Rangers are out of Europe for this season
Image: Rangers are out of Europe for this season

The Rangers fans in the Broomloan Stand produced a massive pre-match display that showed their sights were very much on the road to Dublin for the final on May 22 ahead of the last-16 second leg, but there will be no repeat of the club’s run to the 2022 final

Benfica had some good early possession but Rangers had the first real chance when Tom Lawrence combined with Fabio Silva and fired a shot which Anatoliy Trubin let through his legs. The visiting goalkeeper was fortunate to see the ball trundle wide after hitting off his leg.

Team news

Rangers manager Philippe Clement made one change to his starting XI with Scott Wright in for the injured Dujon Sterling.

Midfielder Todd Cantwell was named on the bench as he made his return from injury.

Lawrence soon had another chance when James Tavernier’s clever low corner gave him a free shot at goal 15 yards out but he failed to connect properly.

Jack Butland showed good hands in the slippery conditions to hold Alexander Bah’s long-range strike.

The first half continued in a more cagey fashion than that 2-2 draw in Portugal.

John Souttar was impressing in central defence for Rangers and his cross almost fell for Cyriel Dessers before Scott Wright slipped in the act of shooting from 22 yards and the ball sailed over.

Rangers survived a dangerous Benfica attack after John Lundstram fluffed a pass inside his own half.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 14: Rangers' Cyriel Dessers during a UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Rangers and Benfica at Ibrox Stadium, on March 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Image: Rangers’ Cyriel Dessers misses a chance

The home side had a great chance on the counter-attack before the break following good work from Wright, but Lawrence picked the wrong option and played in a clearly offside Dessers.

Dessers did get a chance early in the second half after Wright burst past two opponents and played the striker in. The forward might have gone for goal first time but he took a touch and his shot was heading for the far corner but deflected just wide.

The home side kept on the pressure but Benfica worked a good chance for Casper Tengstedt following a slick break. The substitute shot straight at Butland from 12 yards.

Rangers were again exposed from a counter-attack as Benfica took the lead for the first time in the tie.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 14: Benfica's Rafa Silva (left) celebrates with Joao Neves after scoring to make it 1-0 during a UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Rangers and Benfica at Ibrox Stadium, on March 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Image: Benfica’s Rafa Silva (left) celebrates with Joao Neves

Angel Di Maria headed on a ball over the top and Rafa Silva raced clear before slotting home. The offside flag went up but a lengthy VAR check decided the goalscorer was just inside his own half when the ball was played on, and the
goal was given.

Rangers’ attempts to get back in the game were not helped by the surface water on the pitch slowing the ball down amid a day of incessant rain in Glasgow and Butland saved well from Bah as Benfica looked to finish off the tie.

Lundstram got an effort on target in the latter stages but Trubin saved comfortably and Rangers’ hopes ended when substitute Todd Cantwell stabbed wide in stoppage-time.

Clement: It’s already a successful season

Rangers manager Philippe Clement:

“We played a better game than we did in Lisbon, a better game on the ball, but you have to be on your toes to compete with these kind of teams with a much bigger budget than you have.

“You need to take your moments and we didn’t take enough of our moments. We need to leave this European moment behind us and we have to be really proud.

“I know my boys, I know my dressing room. They will recover well and they will come in with a lot of hunger to be ready for Sunday.

“It’s already a memorable season, we have already won the League Cup so we’re hungry for the two other trophies.

“We’re going to all stick together and work really hard to focus on those two goals.”

What’s next?

Sunday 17th March 11:00am Kick off 12:00pm

Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD

Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action on Sunday as the leaders go to Dundee; kick-off 12pm, live on Sky Sports.

Get Sky Sports on WhatsApp!

Sky Sports WhatsApp channel

You can now start receiving messages and alerts for the latest breaking sports news, analysis, in-depth features and videos from our dedicated WhatsApp channel!

Find out more here.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source