Van Bronckhorst step in right direction verdict as Rangers fall to latest heavy defeat: '3-0 didn't reflect the game'

Giovanni van Bronckhorst believes Rangers were ‘well in it’ before James Sands’ red card contributed to the Ibrox side falling to a 3-0 defeat against Napoli in their second Champions League group match.

Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst speaks to Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz after the Spanish referee's controversial performance at Ibrox  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst speaks to Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz after the Spanish referee's controversial performance at Ibrox (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Rangers had given a good account of themselves on a controversial night at Ibrox before Sands’ red card for felling Giovanni Simeone. Although Piotr Zielinski saw his first effort saved by Allan McGregor and his retake also stopped by the veteran ‘keeper, the Italians finally scored a penalty through Matteo Politano after 68 minutes, following Borna Barisic’s handball.

Further goals from substitutes Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele put a gloss on the scoreline for the visitors, who now have two comprehensive victories from their opening two Group A games.

Rangers in contrast have fallen to two heavy defeats and have yet to score. Alfredo Morelos missed a glorious chance in the opening minute as he returned to the starting line up for the first time since March. Van Bronckhorst sought to present a latest heavy defeat as a step in the right direction for his struggling side.

“Until the red card, we gave Napoli a really tough game,” said Van Bronckhorst. “We were well organised, we were good in the game, players were giving everything to try to get a result.

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“We created chances to open the score. It was a nice battle to see, Napoli against Rangers. Unfortunately, at the end with the sending off, we knew it was going to be difficult. Allan saved us with the penalties which was fantastic, but the first goal we conceded meant we had to change.”

The Rangers starting side had not featured any summer signings but Van Bronckhorst turned to Rabbi Matonda, Antonio Colak and Malik Tilman in a desperate attempt to at least force an equaliser. He had already sent Leon King on to cover Sands’ absence in defence.

But the current Serie A leaders were not for offering up any gifts. They not only saw out the win but extended it in the dying minutes as Rangers threw caution to the wind. The Ibrox side have now conceded 11 goals in their last three outings, including a 4-0 defeat to Celtic. They host Dundee United on Saturday at Ibrox.

“The performance was really good,” he said. “The result wasn't but I don't think we deserved a 3-0 loss. If you see how the game went and how my players reacted after last week, we were well in the game.

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"We had some big chances but in the end, the 3-0 result didn't reflect the game we had. When you have ten men and you are 1-0 down, you need to take some risks and that leaves space. But overall, we are disappointed as with 11 v 11, we gave Napoli a tough time and were well in it."

Van Bronckhorst was phlegmatic when asked for a view on the first penalty - which had to be retaken for encroachment. Some contend Sands had got the ball before Simeone crashed to the turf.

"The decision to give the penalty? With VAR everything is checked," said the manager. “It meant we had three penalties against us but we have to accept that.

"I haven’t seen the red card back but they check it all and we have to rely on VAR. It was a moment we didn't react to well. We had to step in and make sure we didn't give a chance away. It cost us a penalty and a red card.”

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