Rangers put one foot into the knockout stages of the Europa League with a 2-1 win over Sparta Prague at Ibrox.
The Ibrox side continued their recent momentum with the get-go, with a terrific first half display in which their passing was fast and crisp, whilst their pressing off-the-ball caused their opposition all sorts of issues.
It was that pressing game that led to the opening goal of the evening on 11 minutes, as Danilo blocked a poor attempt at a back pass by the Prague defender before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.
The Brazilian was everywhere once again for Rangers on Thursday, and half way through the half, he played through Todd Cantwell who expertly chopped back onto his left foot before doubling the home side’s lead.
You wouldn’t have said it was undeserved if Philippe Clement’s team were four or five to the good at the break, but Prague made more of a game of it in the second half and got themselves a consolation goal in the 77th minute through Lukas Haraslin.
Danilo thought he’d restored the two goal lead immediately before VAR ruled his effort out for a foul on the defender but, in the end, Rangers hung on for a deserved victory which means a win again at Ibrox in three weeks against Aris Limassol will at least guarantee them a place in the knockout round play-offs.
With all that being said, here are the player ratings for Rangers vs Sparta Prague.
Jack Butland – 7
Had very little to do before the Prague goal but once again, pulled out an important stop at a big moment with a win saving save late on.
James Tavernier – 6
Looked to support Cantwell on the over lap all night but his final ball alluded him for most of the evening. Had a tougher half defensively after the break but handled it well.
Connor Goldson – 7
Dealt with any aerial threat with ease and covered well any time Prague threatened to get behind. Slowly getting back to his best.
Ben Davies – 7
Seems much more suited to European football where the ball is in the air less. Made a couple of excellent recovery tackles in the second half when Prague threatened.
Borna Barisic – 6
Still doesn’t look a fit to Clement’s attacking style and he couldn’t beat his man towards the byline. Targeted more in the second half and could do better in lead up to Prague goal.
John Lundstram – 7
Not quite up to the same standards as recent games but looked to recycle the ball quickly and get Rangers up the field once again. Recovery pace looks frightening at times right now.
Ryan Jack – 7
Got himself forward a lot more than he usually does and managed to win possession back on several occasions in the first half deep in opposition territory. Two 90 minutes in a week will do him the world of good.
Todd Cantwell – 8
Brilliant performance from the former Norwich man as his relationship with Danilo grows game by game. Took goal brilliantly and could have scored or assisted a few more. Subbed.
Sam Lammers – 6
Put in a tonne of work off the ball and his movement in the first half helped create space for others round him to exploit. Slack in possession too often in the second though and will be worried about his place on that half’s showing.
Abdallah Sima – 7
Will be disappointed with his end product on this occasion as his direct running once again caused the right back for Prague all kinds of issues.
Danilo – 8
Cemented himself now as the main striker with another industrious performance as his off-the-ball pressing was the catalyst for all things good for Rangers. Well taken opener and was unlikely not to get more as he was denied by the post and then the VAR.
Ross McCausland – 6: Impressive cameo from the youngster on for Cantwell as he played a couple of delighted through balls that should have been capitalised on.
Cyriel Dessers – 4
Tom Lawrence – 5
Jose Cifuentes – N/A