Rangers' crisis continues in Cyprus: Fans' reaction says it all after limp loss in Limassol

Michael Beale may have left Rangers but it is clear so many of their troubles remain.
Aris Limassol's Alex Moucketou-Moussounda heads home the opener against Rangers in Cyprus.Aris Limassol's Alex Moucketou-Moussounda heads home the opener against Rangers in Cyprus.
Aris Limassol's Alex Moucketou-Moussounda heads home the opener against Rangers in Cyprus.

In Rangers’ first match since axing the beleaguered Englishman as manager last weekend, they recorded another dreadful result on Thursday evening, going down 2-1 to Aris Limassol in Group C of the Europa League. It was a chastening night for them in Cyprus, as the caretaker coaching team led by Steven Davis failed to get a tune out of the players that let down Beale. This was Aris’ first-ever group stage victory on the continent and after Real Betis overcame Sparta Prague 2-1 in Seville, all three teams in the pool are locked together on three points.

Abdallah Sima gave Rangers some hope of staging a second-half comeback with a goal on 70 minutes to respond to earlier Aris strikes from Gabonese duo Alex Moucketou-Moussounda and Shavy Babicka. Shooting towards their fans, the visitors huffed and puffed without creating a chance of serious note in the final 20 minutes as they sought an equaliser. As the full-time whistle, the furious gestures of the away support and the dejected faces of the players said it all. Rangers are in a crisis. Confidence is rock-bottom, performance levels just are not good enough and so many of the nine new summer signings just are not acclimatising to life at this club.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Davis is set to take charge of Rangers’ next engagement, Sunday’s Premiership match away at in-form St Mirren. Chief executive James Bisgrove stayed in Glasgow while the team was in Limassol and although the message from within Ibrox has consistently been that an appointment will not be rushed, it is clear that management clarity is required pretty swiftly to try and arrest the decline.

There had been some encouraging team news for the visitors in the build-up to the game with striker Kemar Roofe and midfielder Nicolas Raskin declared fit. However, only the latter, who had missed four games with a knock, started with left-back Borna Barisic and attacker Scott Wright, sent off against Aberdeen, also coming into the first Gers team picked by Davis.

Playing in a new mainly-red kit, Rangers looked disjointed and ill at ease from the start and there was no real surprise when they fell behind. Jack Butland blocked a shot from Mihlali Mayambela for a corner which was taken short and when Leo Bengtsson crossed into the box from the right, Moucketou-Moussounda got away from Ibrox defender Connor Goldson to flick a header past the Gers keeper.

Cyriel Dessers had the ball in the net later in the half for Rangers, only to be ruled offside by the linesman, the narrow infringement confirmed by a lengthy VAR check. The rest of the half was notable only for the visitors’ lacklustre showing.

The Cypriot side always looked dangerous on the break and Rangers fell further behind when Bengtsson left midfielder John Lundstram in his slip-stream down the left and crossed for Babicka to escape the attention of Ibrox defender Ben Davies and beat Butland with a confident finish.

In the 67th minute Davis brought on Roofe and Jose Cifuentes for Sam Lammers and Raskin and there was a quick return when Sima headed in a Lundstram cross, which brought another VAR check but this time the goal stood. Rangers pushed hard in the final stages for the equaliser but it was mostly in desperation and not even six minutes of added time could help salvage a point.