FC Ufa 1-1 (agg 1-2) Rangers: Steven Gerrard’s men battle to Europa League group stages despite having two players sent off

30 Aug

Rangers have reached the main phase of a European competition for the first time since 2010 following a 1-1 draw in Ufa in a game which saw Gers finish with nine men.

Ovie Ejaria’s stunning strike gave Steven Gerrard’s men the perfect start, but Dmitri Sysuev’s equaliser levelled the game.

Alfredo Morelos’ moment of madness put Rangers under the cosh after collecting two quick-fire bookings and was followed down the tunnel by Jon Flanagan when the defender was also dismissed after the break.

But try as the hosts might, Gers refused to buckle and got the result which secured a 2-1 aggregate triumph and qualification to the Europa League groups stages.

Ejaria’s goal was just the start Rangers were looking for.

Morelos robbed Jamal Tabidze before Gers worked the ball to the left flank for Flanagan. The full-back’s cross was only half-cleared by Ionut Nedelcearu and Ejaria made him pay as he swept a stunning finish into the corner.

Ufa initially looked shell-shocked but soon recovered.

Connor Goldson was forced to produce a last-ditch block on Sysuev on the half-hour mark – but two minutes later there was no denying the frontman.

Rangers’ defence had stepped up but Sysuev did not hang about for a flag and raced in to slot past Allan McGregor as the visitors appealed in vain for offside.

Gers boss Steven Gerrard needed his team to remain calm – but instead saw Morelos lose his head, first booting the ball away after giving away a foul. He then aimed a verbal blast at the linesman before completing his meltdown by giving referee Tobias Stieler a dismissive wave.

The German official already had a yellow card in his hand for the Colombian’s first offence and immediately flashed it a second time to leave Rangers stunned.

Gerrard is still yet to taste defeat as Rangers boss

There was still eight minutes left of the half and Ufa sensed blood, coming close twice before the break as Sysuev flashed wide before teeing up Sylvester Igboun for a back-post header the Nigerian should have converted.

Ryan Kent almost fired Rangers back in front but Ufa keeper Aleksandr Belenov produced a stunning stop to deny the winger after a mazy run.

Ufa, though, were still giving Rangers cause for panic. Dmitri Zhivoglyadov fired over, Igboun again headed wide while Ivan Oblyakov somehow failed to hit the target when clean through on goal.

The task of keeping the Russians at bay grew even harder as Flanagan got his marching orders with 24 minutes left. The former Liverpool man had already been booked for a foul in the first half and looked stunned as he was given a second for a tame collision with the same man.

Ufa still needed two goals but McGregor was in defiant mood – brilliantly saving an Igboun header with a flying save – as was Gerrard’s back four as they put their bodies on the line time after time.

There was time for a couple of late scares as Vyacheslav Krotov flicked a header against a post while Tabidze did find the net only to see his header ruled out after a barge on Ejaria, but Gers stood firm through four nervous minutes of stoppage time.

 

FC Ufa boss would like to sign Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and Connor Goldson if they can knock Rangers out of the Europa League

29 Aug

Ufa manager Sergei Tomarov would like to raid Rangers in the transfer market if his side can emerge victorious against the Scottish Premiership team in the Europa League.

The Russians will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit in their play-off after Rangers won by that scoreline in the first leg at Ibrox.

Connor Goldson, whose goal separates Rangers and Ufa going into the second leg, is one of the players Tomarov is interested in

FC Ufa v Rangers match preview

However, Tomarov believes his team are capable of doing that and if they are successful in their endeavours he would like Ufa to sign Rangers trio Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and Connor Goldson.

Steven Gerrard’s side bought Borna Barisic from beaten opponents Osijek and are close to agreeing another deal for winger Eros Grezda.

Meanwhile, Ufa signed striker Lovro Bizjak from NK Domzale, who they defeated in their opening qualifier and appear set to agree a deal for Progres Niederkorn midfielder Olivier Thill after edging out the Luxembourg side in the last round.

But Tomarov admitted it might be hard to make the audacious swoop for the Gers players as the European transfer window closes on Friday.

Morelos reportedly attracted the interest of Ligue 1 giants Lyon earlier this summer

He said: “Who do I fancy? Rangers have many fine footballers. I really liked Alfredo Morelos up front, Connor Goldson in the centre of defence and the captain James Tavernier at right-back.

“However, time isn’t on our side. There isn’t too much time to buy players because the transfer deadline is very soon.”

Ufa were only formed in 2011 but have made excellent progress up the Russian lower leagues and made it to the top flight within three years.

And their manager said that their showdown with Rangers is the biggest game in their short history.

Tomarov added: “I can say for a fact this is the most important game in our history because we’ve gone in seven years from the third tier of Russian football to the Premier League.

“Now we’re in the Europa League and within touching distance of the group stage.

“Who knows, maybe next time it will be the Champions League, so we go step by step. Qualification is the most important stage for us at this period in our history.”

 

Rangers 1-0 FC Ufa: Connor Goldson strike gives Steven Gerrard’s men narrow advantage in Europa League play-off

23 Aug

Connor Goldson’s close-range header ensured Rangers’ quest to the Europa League group stages remained on track as they secured a 1-0 victory in the first leg against Ufa at Ibrox.

However, Steven Gerrard’s men will be aware the job is only halfway done as they head to the Russian Repuiblic of Bashkortostan next Thursday with a slender lead.

Goldson’s goal gave Rangers the first leg victory

The result saw Gerrard rack up his 10th game without defeat since taking over in the summer but the Gers boss will be frustrated his side did not put the tie to bed.

Kyle Lafferty was back in blue a day after completing his Rangers return from Hearts but he could not cap off a dream second debut with a goal.

The Russians arrived in Glasgow on the back of a 3-0 beating from Dynamo Moscow domestically and it was clear early they would not pose Rangers the problems both Osijek and Maribor managed in previous rounds.

But that was not to say they would make life easy as Sergei Tomarov’s men rolled up their sleeves and dug in.

New signing Kyle Lafferty came on in the second-half

Daniel Candeias and Alfredo Morelos tested Aleksandr Belenov early, while Goldson headed wide after 32 minutes.

But as much as Ufa were proving hard to shake, Gers were also showing a hesitancy in pulling the trigger.

Injury had robbed Gerrard of Jamie Murphy – now out for the season after rupturing knee ligaments on Kilmarnock’s plastic pitch – as well as Lassana Coulibaly and they missed both the Scot’s devilment out wide and the Mali international’s power through the middle.

Ryan Kent was deputising for Murphy but too often showed a reluctance to drive at his Ufa right-back Dmitry Zhivoglyadov. It was not until the 41st minute that he got himself to the bye-line but when he did, it brought the opener.

His cross was put out for a corner but his delivery from the set-piece was on the money for Morelos. Belenov parried the Colombian’s header but could only look on hopelessly as Goldson leapt on the rebound to score.

Gerrard has yet to taste defeat as Rangers boss in what was his tenth game in charge

Rangers switched off at the restart though and were grateful once again for Allan McGregor – the saviour in last week’s draw in Maribor – as the keeper blocked Zhivoglyadov’s strike at the back post while there was another scare when Ivan Paurevic hooked over from the resulting corner.

Gerrard felt his side should have had a penalty 13 minutes into the second period when Jemal Tabidze went in clumsily on Candeias but Polish referee Daniel Stefanski was not interested.

Then, six years after walking out on the club following its financial meltdown, Lafferty made his return when he climbed off the bench in the 69th minute. All was clearly forgiven as Ibrox roared his entrance onto the pitch.

He was lucky referee Stefanski was in similar mood after catching Tabidze with a boot to the midriff, earning only a yellow card.

Rangers were keen to put daylight between themselves and their opponents but saw Kent fizz over, while another penalty claim was turned down when substitute Glenn Middleton tumbled at Zhivoglyadov’s feet.

But in the end they were fortunate to have a lead at all to take to Russia after Paurevic failed to convert from close range at the death.