Rangers 2 Arsenal 2: Kieran Tierney's hot reception, Jermain Defoe injury blow and John Lundstram home debut

Kieran Tierney was given the treatment he expected at Ibrox but then it was simply gladdening to hear anything – boos or otherwise – as fans made their return to the stadium for the first time in 16 months.
Jermain Defoe picked up an injury in Rangers' friendly match against Arsenal, which finished 2-2. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Jermain Defoe picked up an injury in Rangers' friendly match against Arsenal, which finished 2-2. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Jermain Defoe picked up an injury in Rangers' friendly match against Arsenal, which finished 2-2. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Not since a 3-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen on 12 March 2020 has the famous stadium housed supporters.

There might only have been 2000 of them but they made themselves heard when Tierney appeared at half-time to warm up prior to coming on.

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Many also started off jeering his every touch. But it was too warm to keep this going throughout the second half and there was a goal to cheer in any case.

Substitute Cedric Itten put Rangers 2-1 ahead after 77 minutes after making a good connection with a Glenn Middleton corner.

This was a timely reminder of the striker's prowess with Steven Gerrard having already watched Jermain Defoe limp off in the opening half with what looked like a muscle strain.

With Alfredo Morelos still to return from Copa America duty with Colombia and Kemar Roofe suspended for Rangers’ first Champions League qualifier next month, the Ibrox side are already looking slightly lacking upfront. They discover who they play at the draw on Monday.

Holding Arsenal will help confidence. Both sides missed chances and will feel they could have won this fixture to start Rangers’ 150th anniversary celebrations.

It was a pity so few home supporters could view the proceedings although it is a step in the right direction.

They would have been slightly deflated to see their side surrender the advantage with six minutes left after Eddie Nketiah found the corner with a left-footed drive after Middleton, who was otherwise impressive in his short cameo, was slow to clear.

The winger, who won two cups in six months while out on loan at St Johnstone last season, had earlier set up Stephen Kelly. The youngster should have burst the net from just outside the six-yard box but he allowed substitute ‘keeper Karl Hein to block. That would have made it 3-1.

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Nketiah equalised two minutes later in what proved a well-contested clash even given the multiple substitutions. Despite being the oldest player on show, Allan McGregor was the only one to complete the 90 minutes. Arsenal made five substitutions at half-time and seven more after 62 minutes.

John Lundstram a summer signing from Sheffield United, made his home debut from the start and looked an unflashy ball-carrying midfielder.

Rangers took the lead after 14 minutes when Leon Balogun – another suspended for the opening European game – flashed a header past Arthur Okonkwo from James Tavernier’s corner.

Arsenal were level nine minutes later when Nuno Tavares, signed for £7 million from Benfica as an understudy for Tierney, slammed a shot past McGregor at the near post.

Right-back Nathan Patterson joined Tierney in coming on at half-time in what proved a fascinating match-up between the Scotland players. This season promises to be a pivotal one for Patterson, who will hope he can force his way into the Scotland side for the resumption of World Cup qualifying in September.

Tavernier was pushed up to the right side of midfield though he seemed to play more as a winger in what could be a glimpse of the future for Rangers.

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