Superb Rangers hit four to set up a potential Champions League clash with European giant, as Celtic go top
A devastating second half performance from Rangers saw Malky Thomson’s side demolish PAOK 4-0 to progress to the final qualifying stages of the UWCL.
After a first half stalemate, goals from Nicola Docherty, Hannah Davison, an own-goal and top scorer Lizzie Arnot secured a path to a two-legged play-offs for the first time – with prize being a potential glamour tie against one of Europe’s elite clubs.
The Gers, who are competing in the competition for the first time, had already disposed of Hungarian side Ferencvaros on Thursday thanks to a double strike from Jenny Danielsson and a late Brogan Hay goal, but went one better with a superb dismantling of the Greek side.
“I think in the first half it was extremely hard-fought. The players were extremely disciplined in the first half and were hard to break down" Gers boss Thomson told RangersTV.
“But I think that the fitness levels with our team – plus the fact that we stuck to the plan, had full concentration, we kept possession of the ball – we are slowly but surely grinding teams down and there is a real maturity about them now.
Malky Thomson praises Rangers mentality
“They are starting to become aware of, whether we score in the first minute or the last minute or whether it’s 1-0 or 4-0, it’s irrelevant. It’s about winning" he added.
The win now means Rangers head into the final qualifying stages of the competition, although they will be unseeded and must first pass through a two legged affair against a seeded side, with potential opponents being Slavia Prague, FC Rosengård, Juventus, St. Pölten, FC Zürich, KFF Vilaznia or Benfica.
Elsewhere, Champions League veterans Glasgow City were unlucky to be undone by a 92nd minute Cassandra Korhonen winner in their UWCL third place tie against Servette at Petershill Park.
After a slow first half, Eileen Gleeson’s side were unlucky not to go one up when Polish international Kinga Kozak tapped home from close range only to see the referee bizarrely rule the goal out for a collision with the goalkeeper. Replays showed that may have been the incorrect decision.
That disallowed strike followed numerous superb stops from Portugal goalkeeper Ines Pereira in the Servette net, with Abbi Grant and Emily Whelan particularly unlucky not to see the net bulge after excellent efforts.
Celtic go top with win at Spartans
With City and Rangers in European action, it did allow Fran Alonso’s Celtic to go top of the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) after an excellent 4-0 home win against Spartans.
First half goals from Taylor Otto and Chloe Craig combined with a second half double from Canadian Clarissa Larisey shot the Ghirls to the top of the league by three points, though both City and the Gers will have the chance to knock them off the summit with their midweek games in hand.
Elsewhere, Motherwell put in another impressive away performance to defeat Hibs 3-2, as the capital club continues to struggle in the early stages of the SWPL.
Game of the day came at SWPL newcomers Glasgow Women, however, as a ding dong battle with Hamilton ended up being decided by a 92nd minute strike from Accies striker Josi Giard.
The German had already bagged brace and she completed her hat trick deep in injury time to see Gary Doctor’s side into the heady heights of fourth place.
Meanwhile, Aberdeen’s shaky start to the season continued with a 2-2 draw at home to Partick Thistle.
The Dons had taken the lead twice through Bailey Collins and Mya Christie, however, Brian Graham’s Thistle outfit twice battle back to secure a point on the road.