'Wow, it's OK now': Exhausted Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst reacts to rollercoaster night as comeback man hailed for performance
The hosts looked to be on course for a relatively untroubled evening after they scored two goals against Braga in a one-sided first half to take a 2-1 lead in the tie.
Braga had also been reduced to ten men after Vitor Tormena was red carded for the challenge on Kemar Roofe that led to Rangers’ second goal, scored from the penalty spot by James Tavernier. The skipper also put Rangers ahead with the opening goal after 74 seconds. The home side also had a goal ruled out by VAR after the ball glanced off Borna Barisic’s hand before he crossed for Kemar Roofe to head home.
But things went awry with seven minutes left when David Carmo headed in a goal for Braga to level the tie. Extra-time saw Rangers score a third decisive goal through Roofe before Braga were further depleted when substitute Luri Medeiros was sent off after late challenge on Tavernier on the touchline.
There were no further mishaps in front of the 48, 894 crowd as Rangers reached the last four of a European competition for the seventh time.
“Wow, it’s OK now!" said Van Bronckhorst afterwards. “It was a big night and big result for us.
“It was a game that was going up and down, it had it all. It was quite hectic but going through to the semis is a big night for us.
“I’m very proud reaching the last four in Europe, it’s a major achievement for everyone.
“Of course we worked hard for it. In the group stages and after that. The 1-0 loss in Braga wasn’t a bad result and we started really well.
“We could have been 2-0 up but VAR ruled the second goal out.
“Against ten men and nine men we could’ve played better. I think the players were a bit tense, a bit nervous because you want to go through.
“It starts with belief, belief that you can go through and be in the last four.
“We play Leipzig over two games so it’ll be a hectic schedule until the end but you don’t want it any different now. It was a game and a night for the fans to be proud of.”
The manager applauded the performance of Barisic, whose crosses caused Braga all sorts of problems before he was replaced by Leon Balogun near the end of normal time.
“Barisic was fantastic,” he said. “We wanted to have a bit more pressure and be a bit more dynamic down the sides.
“With a 1-0 defeat last week you want your full backs to be higher up and putting crosses in, being more dangerous.
“Borna did that excellently. Tav in Europe is a different Tav and was again today. I am really happy for him and proud of the boys and the club.
“Kemar got confidence from his hat-trick on Sunday and I’m really happy with his performance.
“Team wise we did everything right and we needed a big performance and got it. It’s a pleasure to see my players enjoying the game and the fans cheering their team on.
“Dreaming of winning it is good. It gives you the desire and the push to go on. We need two big performances against Leipzig but we’ll enjoy tonight and look ahead to the next games.”