The Ibrox club’s fourth competitive meeting with a Czech club went the way of the previous three experienced by John Greig, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish, ending in elimination.
Gerrard’s side were never able to get to grips with a tactically astute and admirably energetic Slavia Prague team as they were reintroduced to an unfamiliar and unwelcome feeling in suffering their first home defeat in more than a year.
It was a night to forget for the newly crowned Premiership champions who had Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun sent off as they made their exit from the Europa League at the same last 16 stage which saw them experience their last loss at Ibrox against Bayer Leverkusen 12 months and six days ago.
Peter Olayinka’s 14th minute header gave the Czech champions the upper hand in the tie and they seldom looked likely to give it up. The second half dismissals of Roofe and Balogun sealed Rangers’ fate in conjunction with a stunning free-kick from Nicolae Stanciu.
If Allan McGregor was unquestionably the hero for Rangers in Prague seven days earlier, the goalkeeper would not feel satisfied with his part in Slavia’s opener.
Having started the evening in a winning position in the tie, courtesy of McGregor’s wonder save which preserved the 1-1 first leg scoreline, Rangers saw the advantage of their away goal quickly wiped out by opponents who opened up on the front foot.
Rangers were caught out down the left flank when they failed to close down Slavia captain Jan Boril as he found all the time and space he needed to whip over a cross which Olayinka got in front of Connor Goldson to meet with a firm header.
It was well directed, downward towards McGregor’s right hand post, but it was the kind of save the 39-year-old would expect to make. Despite getting a hand to the ball, he couldn’t keep it out.
Slavia were generally comfortable with their lead and felt they should have had the chance to add to it in first half stoppage time when Olayinka went down under Balogun’s challenge in the box. To the hosts’ relief, a VAR check of the incident backed referee Orel Grinfeeld’s decision not to award a penalty.
There was no need for the Israeli official to consult technology when Roofe recklessly turned an uphill challenge for Rangers into a mountainous one with his dismissal.
Just six minutes after he had replaced the out-of-sorts Scott Arfield, the English forward caught Kolar with a high boot as he tried to get on the end of a long through ball from Goldson. There was little in the way of complaint from Roofe when the red card was produced.
Any hopes Rangers had of staging an unlikely recovery with 10 men disappeared when they were then reduced to nine and found themselves 2-0 down.
Balogun, booked in the first half for a foul on Lukas Provod, received his second caution for a trip on Lukas Masopust on the edge of the box. Stanciu stepped up to take the free-kick and brilliantly curled it beyond the helpless McGregor.