It wouldn’t be Rangers if they didn’t do things the hard way and this match was no different as they drew 1-1 – and won 3-2 on aggregate – in Geneva against Servette to secure their place in the Champions League play-off round facing off against a familiar foe in PSV Eindhoven.
The home side took the lead early through Dereck Kutesa and in that first half Servette had Rangers where they wanted them it seemed. However, at the start of the second half, as per usual, despite his faults, James Tavernier headed home a Borna Barisic cross to see Rangers into the play-off round.
We will now take a look a the biggest takeaways from the match in Geneva.
Jack Butland proving to be Mr Reliable in between the sticks
He was brought in to replace Allan McGregor and you can see why at the start of his Rangers career. Early on the Englishman had to deny Timothe Cognat as he had ran through the heart of the Rangers defence, but Butland got down to his left and pushed the ball round the left-hand post. He had to make four saves in the match. But that early one was the pick of the bunch. He had no chance with the goal but we know what we can expect from the former Man Utd keeper this early on. He is commanding and he makes big saves.
The shape didn’t work in the first half
The shape in the first half didn’t work at all. Servette were able to work the ball out to their right-hand side on many occasions and cause so many problems down the sides, but that one in particular stood out. Cantwell seemed to playing in a left of centre position, trying to get close to Danilo, who missed a sitter in the first half, which would have you smashing your head off of the wall in frustration it was that bad.
But going back to the shape, it was far too easy for Servette; there was nothing that resembled a press out of possession and it was all too easy for them just to build attacks, and obviously that led to them creating a few 100% chances. In fact, if they had picked the correct option at times they would have went into the break further ahead.
Second half was better with Cifuentes and Raskin standing out
Nicolas Raskin and Jose Cifuentes were brilliant in the second half. After James Tavernier scored to equalise, their energy in the middle of the park helped Rangers see the game out, and it was only when Raskin started the play and moved the ball quickly in the Servette final third did Rangers look like they could go on and win the game.
Cifuentes’ stats came in at: 9 recoveries, 2/4 ground duels won, 2 chances created, passes into the final third 8.
Raskin’s stats were: 3/5 successful dribbles, 3/5 tackles won, 11/16 ground duels one, 6 recoveries and 1 chance created.
They were excellent, and this could be the start of a good partnership between the Belgian and the Ecuadorian.
When the chips are down James Tavernier delivers
He gets his fair share of stick and he hasn’t looked ‘on it’ so far this season, but there is something about James Tavernier’s character that you have to admire because when he gets it tight for performing poorly, which he did in the first half, he always seems to come back like Lazarus and get a goal or an assist that is crucial for the team.
That’s the role of a captain, though, isn’t it?
The qualification money is important
This competition is all about the money for clubs like Rangers and teams of a similar size in the smaller leagues. The extra money that has been banked due to qualification could prove vital for Michael Beale in the transfer market as he will look to hopefully add to the squad before the play-off round.