Rangers 2-0 Sparta Prague extras: Alfredo Morelos back to his best, comical defending and classy refereeing

The key points from Ibrox as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s return as manager sees Rangers clinch a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League.

Rangers' English defender Connor Goldson (L) vies with Sparta Praha's Czech striker Matej Pulkrab during the UEFA Europa League Group A football match between Rangers and Sparta Prague at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on November 25, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Rangers' English defender Connor Goldson (L) vies with Sparta Praha's Czech striker Matej Pulkrab during the UEFA Europa League Group A football match between Rangers and Sparta Prague at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on November 25, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Player of the Match

There were plenty of contenders in the Rangers ranks. Connor Goldson was generally back to his solid best in central defence where Calvin Bassey was a more than able partner. Borna Barisic produced arguably his best display of the season so far at left-back, Glen Kamara was impeccable as a defensive midfielder and Joe Aribo relished his new ‘number 10’ role.

Special mention, too, for veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor whose remarkable late double save denied Sparta Prague the goal which would have taken the race for second place in Group A to the final matchday.

But it would be difficult to look past Alfredo Morelos whose double took Rangers through to the next stage.

The Colombian striker hasn’t been firing on all cylinders so far this season but if van Bronckhorst can revitalise him as the spearhead of his attack-minded system, the benefits for Rangers are obvious.

Letdown

There wasn’t one on what was a perfect night for van Bronckhorst.

Turning point

With a single goal victory not sufficient for Rangers to avoid having to take their bid for Europa League progress into their final match away to group winners and top seeds Lyon next month, Filip Panak’s extraordinary blunder to present Morelos with his second goal of the night early in the second half was pivotal

Ref watch

Van Bronckhorst would not have been too disappointed to find that his first match in charge of Rangers was being handled by one of his compatriots.

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie showed why he is so highly regarded by both UEFA and FIFA as he let the game flow, which suited the style van Bronckhorst was looking to implement, and the bookings he administered to Ianis Hagi and Borna Barisic were both justified.

Gave us a giggle

It may be cruel to laugh at the misfortune of others but Panak’s error to gift Morelos his second goal of the night was so ridiculous that it was impossible not to find it comical.

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