Eintracht Frankfurt Beat Rangers To Win Europa League


Frankfurt’s Colombian striker Rafael Borre (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after Eintracht Frankfurt won the UEFA Europa League final football match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Glasgow Rangers at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on May 18, 2022. Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP

 

Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Rangers 5-4 on penalties to win the Europa League on Wednesday after the final in Seville finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

Aaron Ramsey missed for Rangers in the shoot-out after coming on as a substitute with only three minutes left of extra time, before Rafael Borre struck the winning shot to complete Frankfurt’s remarkable triumph.

“We will celebrate for the next few days now,” said Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner.

Borre was the hero of the night, after already cancelling out Joe Aribo’s opener for Rangers as Frankfurt won their first European trophy since 1980 and booked their place in next season’s Champions League group stage.

READ ALSO[WAFU B Tournament] Nigeria Reaches Final, Qualify For 2023 U20 AFCON

“I dreamed of tonight, of a historic night for the club, a historic night for me,” said Borre, the Colombian. “It’s my first European title. I will keep this memory forever.”

“We are all heroes. Without the fans we wouldn’t have made it,” said Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Both clubs were looking to win a second European title in their history, Rangers after clinching the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 and Frankfurt after they lifted the UEFA Cup 42 years ago.

But Rangers came up just short at the end of an incredible run to the final. Only 10 years ago this week, Rangers fell into administration before being liquidated and relegated to Scotland’s bottom tier.

Frankfurt had already beaten Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham United en route to the final and they were probably deserving winners, shading a compelling contest that always seemed to lack real technical quality.

With a capacity of just under 43,000, Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan ground was never going to be big enough to house all the travelling fans, with Rangers bringing over an estimated 100,000 while around 60,000 followed Frankfurt to Spain.

The vast majority enjoyed the day in good spirits but security concerns were not unfounded, with skirmishes breaking out in the city centre during the day on Wednesday while five German fans were arrested late Tuesday after police said 200 Frankfurt fans launched an attack on Rangers supporters.

It was a scruffy opening 15 minutes as Joe Aribo almost got away after a neat pirouette by Scott Wright before John Lundstram scraped his studs down the dipping head of Sebastian Rode, leaving the Frankfurt captain with a bloody shirt that had to be changed and a head that had to be strapped.

The Germans gradually took control, suffocating Rangers, who were reduced to speculative punts forward to try to escape the press.

Pressure mounting

Frankfurt’s Ansgar Knauff went close, the penalty box opening up for the winger at the end of a winding run forward, only for Allan McGregor to tip wide.

Rangers had their moments and improved before the break as Lundstram’s header had to be pushed over and Ryan Jack drove too high.

Frankfurt seemed rejuvenated for the start of the second half but it was Rangers who took the lead just before the hour, capitalising on two dreadful Frankfurt errors, each compounding the other.

First, Djibril Sow misjudged a header in midfield, sending it back behind his own defence for the lively Aribo to latch onto, and then as Frankfurt’s Tutu chased, he slipped, gifting a free run to the striker, who slotted home.

However, Eintracht drew level in the 69th minute as Filip Kostic was given too much space out wide to cross and then in the middle, Connor Goldson and Calvin Bassey both hesitated to clear. Borre nipped between them and prodded in.

There were precious few opportunities in the final minutes but the contest became stretched in extra time.

Rangers might have won it in the 118th minute as the sprinting Ryan Kent arrived at the back post only for Trapp to make a sensational save.

To penalties, and the Rangers fans roared when the coin toss put the shoot-out at their end. James Tavernier, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield all scored for Rangers as did Frankfurt’s Christopher Lenz, Ajdin Hrustic and Daichi Kamada, whose shot squeezed in off the post.

But Ramsey fired too straight, hitting Trapp’s left foot and after Kostic and Kemar Roofe converted, it was up to Borre to finish it. He made no mistake.

 

AFP

Three Nigerians Eye Historic Europa League Glory With Rangers

A photo collage of Aribo, Calvin Bassey, and Leon Balogun of Rangers.

 

Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun, and Calvin Bassey will be aiming for history when Glasgow Rangers take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

The match could even be more historic if  Rangers’ manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst lists the Nigerians in the squad for the tie in Seville.

Wednesday’s match is another landmark game. It will be the first time three Nigerians will feature for a club that got to the European final. Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu played for Ajax in the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan while Mikel Obi and Victor Moses were part of the Chelsea team that won the Europa League in 2013.

READ ALSO: [WAFU B Tournament] Nigeria Reaches Final, Qualify For 2023 U20 AFCON

‘The Boys Are Buzzing’

Rangers’ Nigerian midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo attends a team training session at the Rangers Training Centre in Glasgow on May 12, 2022, ahead of their Europa League final football match against Eintracht Frankfurt on May 18th. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers face the Germans in Seville aiming to add to their 1971/72 Cup Winners’ Cup success.

Victory for Rangers will be a huge compensation for the trio who featured as Nigeria failed to make the 2022 World Cup.

But Aribo is determined to banish the memories of the World Cup miss and Nigeria’s Round of 16 crash at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

“All the boys are buzzing. We know what an opportunity we have and we are ready to go, to be honest,” Aribo said.

‘It’s Just Crazy’

Leon Balogun scored in the team’s run to the final. [email protected] Balogun.

 

For Calvin Bassey, 22, playing in the Europa League final is a dream come true.

“When I look at it four years ago, I was just like an U18s footballer. I’m in the youth team and now four years on I can potentially play in the Europa League final,” he told Rangers’ TV.

“It is just crazy just looking at how far I have come and how happy I am every day for being here and just being a part of it.”

Balogun’s Role

Bassey’s compatriot, Balogun will be playing in his first European Cup final. The 33-year-old should be in the matchday squad if fit. Already, he has a goal to his name in the competition. He was on the scoresheet for Rangers against Crvena Zvezda.

Overall, he has played 10 games for Van Bronckhorst’s men in the Europa League this season.

‘Chance… To Be In History Books’

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (R) during his time at Feyenoord Rotterdam. Credit: Van Bronckhorst/Twitter
File photo: Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (R) during his time at Feyenoord Rotterdam. Credit: Van Bronckhorst/Twitter

 

The game is also hugely significant for the club. When administration, liquidation, and relegation all blighted a broken Rangers in 2012, none thought they would be so swift in recovering.

But if the Rangers’ recovery was complete when they won the Scottish Premiership again last season, a final in Seville now offers them a shot at European glory too.

“We’re one game away from making history,” Rangers midfielder Aaron Ramsey said on Monday as the squad departed for Spain, the final leg of a journey that began eight months ago in defeat and disappointment.

With the chance to play in the Champions League on the back of winning the Scottish title, Rangers instead lost to Malmo in the third qualifying round, a result that set up a play-off to reach the Europa League with Alashkert from Armenia.

There were more prestigious opponents to come as Rangers, under Giovanni van Bronckhorst from November after Steven Gerrard left for Aston Villa, defeated Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade, Braga, and Leipzig in the knock-out rounds to reach their first European final in 14 years.

A victory would earn the club its first cup on the continent since Rangers beat Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in Barcelona to lift the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

“This is a chance for them to be in the history books of this club and really get a historic win,” said Van Bronckhorst.

“Then the stories they will tell in years to come will be the same stories that the players from 1972 tell to my players.

“I’ve said it before you have to dream of something to really achieve it. You can work hard and really give everything to achieve your goal and that is beautiful.”

Aribo, Balogun, Bassey Lead Rangers Into Europa League Final


Rangers’ English midfielder John Lundstram (C) is congratulated by teammates as they celebrate after the UEFA Europa League Semi-final, second leg football match between Rangers and RB Leipzig at the Ibrox Stadium, in Glasgow, on May 5, 2022. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers produced one of their greatest European performances to beat RB Leipzig 3-1 on Thursday to reach the Europa League final 3-2 on aggregate.

James Tavernier and Glen Kamara turned the tie around inside the first 24 minutes at an emotionally charged Ibrox as players and fans united to pay tribute to long-serving kitman Jimmy Bell, who died on Tuesday.

Christopher Nkunku hit back for Leipzig in the second half, but John Lundstram scored the winner nine minutes from time.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the final in Seville on May 18 in just their second European final in 50 years.

The Scottish champions lost to Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final of 2008, but have had to start again from the fourth tier following a financial collapse in 2012.

READ ALSOReal Madrid And Liverpool Set For Paris Rematch

Last season they ended Celtic’s run of nine league titles in a row and will return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010 with victory over Frankfurt at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in 13 days’ time.

Leipzig’s 1-0 advantage from the first leg was blown away early on in front of a cacophonous noise.

Right-back Tavernier moved outright as the top scorer in the competition with seven goals, all of which have come in the knockout phase, when he timed his run to perfection to turn in Ryan Kent’s cross.

Kamara then guided a wonderful finish low into the far corner from outside the box and kissed his black armband in tribute to Bell.

Joe Aribo should have made it three within half an hour when he missed his kick from point-blank range.

Leipzig lost just once in 19 games between January and April, but have now been beaten in three of their last four to put their chances of Champions League football next season hanging in the balance.

The Germans enjoyed the majority of the ball in the second half and were back on level terms in the tie when Nkunku steered home his 32nd goal of the season from Angelino’s cross.

Rangers then had to dig deep just to keep Leipzig at bay, but they found the winner late on.

Kent’s cross to the back post caused panic in the Leipzig defence and the loose ball broke to Lundstram to stroke into an unguarded net and spark wild scenes of celebration.

AFP

Joe Aribo Scores Stunner As Rangers Run Riot At St Mirren

Joe Aribo celebrates his goal. [email protected]

Kemar Roofe hit his first hat-trick for Rangers in a 4-0 win at St Mirren that closed the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic on Sunday.

Roofe struck twice in the first half and completed his treble after the interval before Joe Aribo wrapped up the scoring.

It wasn’t all good news for Rangers boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, who lost John Lundstram and Filip Helander to injury.

Second placed Rangers are six points behind Celtic, who remain firm favourites to end their Glasgow rivals’ reign as champions.

The Old Firm foes clash in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park next Sunday.

READ ALSOModric, Kroos Rested As Real Madrid Sail Past Getafe

Before that, Rangers take on Braga in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Ibrox on Thursday looking to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

Van Bronckhorst made a host of changes ahead of the Braga clash, but Rangers still went in front after just two minutes.

Ryan Kent crossed for Roofe to glance his header from eight yards past Saints keeper Dean Lyness.

Rangers were well on top throughout the half and Aaron Ramsey’s powerful effort hit the crossbar.

The visitors struck again on the stroke of half-time as former Leeds striker headed home from James Tavernier’s cross.

Roofe sealed his hat-trick in the 50th minute when he met a Fashion Sakala cut-back with a composed finish past Lyness.

A swift Rangers break in the 70th minute saw Sakala roll in Amad Diallo for an easy chance but he missed the target before Lyness denied Tavernier from close-range.

Six minutes later, Aribo swivelled 20 yards out and curled his shot over Lyness.

AFP

Europa League: Osimhen Scores Brace, Lyon Roll Over Rangers

Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (C) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group C football match between Leicester City and Napoli at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on September 16, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Victor Osimhen scored twice as Napoli came from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Leicester, while Lyon cruised to a 2-0 win at Rangers on the opening night of the Europa League group stages.

Earlier, Celtic threw away a two-goal lead to lose 4-3 to Real Betis and West Ham were convincing 2-0 winners away to Dinamo Zagreb.

Leicester just missed out on Champions League football for a second consecutive season as they finished fifth in the Premier League last term.

But the Foxes are keen to go further than their run to the last 32 of the Europa League last season and got off to a great start against the Italian giants.

Ayoze Perez fired home at the back post from Harvey Barnes’ cross after just nine minutes.

Patson Daka then saw his first Leicester goal ruled out by a VAR review for a marginal offside call, but Barnes quickly put that disappointment behind Brendan Rodgers’ men with an excellent finish to double Leicester’s lead.

Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti held nothing in reserve with his strongest side and the visitors responded in the final quarter thanks to Osimhen.

The Nigerian, who cost €70 million ($83 million) from Lille last year, brilliantly flicked the ball over the imposing presence of Jannik Vestegaard and Kasper Schmeichel to get Napoli back in the game.

Osimhen then out-jumped Caglar Soyuncu to power home a head for a deserved equaliser.


Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen jumps above Leicester City’s Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu to head the ball to score his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group C football match between Leicester City and Napoli at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on September 16, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

And Leicester’s night got even worse in stoppage time when Wilfred Ndidi was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.

“The crime isn’t giving away the two goals, the crime is if you don’t learn from it,” said Rodgers. “I’m sure that is something this young team will do.”

READ ALSO: Man Utd Dealt Shock Champions League Loss As Lukaku Boosts Chelsea

Rangers Outclassed 


Lyon’s Cameroonian forward Karl Toko Ekambi scores the opening goal during the UEFA Europa League group A football match between Rangers and Olympique_Lyonnais at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on September 16, 2021. ANDY BUCHANAN / POOL / AFP

 

At Ibrox, Lyon spoiled Steven Gerrard’s 50th European game in charge of Rangers.

Toko Ekambi curled home from long range to open the scoring midway through the first-half and a goalmouth scramble early in the second period ended with the ball ricocheting off Rangers captain James Tavernier into his own net.

“At the domestic level you can sometimes give the ball away in certain areas but not at this level in the Europa League,” said Gerrard after Rangers were outclassed by the French side.

Celtic returned to Seville 18 years on from reaching the UEFA Cup final and got off to a dream start at the Benito Villamarin.

Albian Ajeti bundled home the opener thanks to a VAR review after the goal had initially been ruled out for handball before Josip Juranovic buried his first Celtic goal from the penalty spot.

But two goals in three minutes wiped out Celtic’s lead as Juan Miranda slotted home before Borja Iglesias unselfishly teed up Juanmi to equalise.

Iglesias completed the comeback with a near post flick early in the second-half before Juanmi’s shot flew in off the inside of the box.

Anthony Ralston pulled a goal back three minutes from time to give Celtic some hope, but Betis held on for all three points.

“We had our moments in the game where it could have got away from them and unfortunately we didn’t do that,” said Postecoglou. “They have some quality up front that punished us.”

Bayer Leverkusen were also winners in Group G as the Germans came from behind to beat Ferencvaros 2-1 thanks to a second-half winner from 18-year-old star Florian Wirtz.

West Ham enjoyed a far more comfortable return to European football in the Croatian capital that had manager David Moyes dreaming of how far they can go.

“I’m really excited about the prospect of slightly not knowing how good they could be. We brought in some new players tonight and didn’t look any the worse for it,” said Moyes.

“It’s only one game, but the players are in a good place.”

Michail Antonio pounced off a slack back pass to continue his early season scoring streak with his fifth goal in as many games.

Declan Rice then galloped from inside his own half before producing a powerful finish five minutes into the second-half.

AFP

NPFL 21: Akwa United Vs Rangers Match Fails To Produce Goals

The Nest of Champions in Uyo hosted the match between Akwa United and Rangers Int’l FC (Picture Courtesy: Akwa United Media)

 

The much anticipated Nigeria Professional Football League matchday 22 encounter between Akwa United and Rangers International FC ended in a goalless draw at the Nest of Champions in Uyo.

The hosts, Akwa United, with a flawless home record, hoped to use the match to consolidate their top spot on the league standings. The Flying Antelopes were hoping to bounce back after losing 1-0 to Rivers United in Enugu on matchday 21.

The Promise Keepers created the first chance of the match in the 2nd minute of the match when in-form player, Charles Atshimene gave a pass to Mfon Udoh but the striker’s effort was saved by goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu.

The game advanced with both teams trying to understand how to get the goals but it was really tight in the middle. In the 20th minute, Etim Matthew suffered a knock and was replaced by Otobong Effiong.

Just before half-time, referee Grema Mohammed got busy, he showed yellow cards to Dare Ojo of Akwa United and Tony Shimaga of Rangers. The first half ended with cautions.

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In the second half, things got heated, the game became physical and the referee unleashed more yellow cards. Captain of the home side, Otobong Effiong wasn’t forgiven in the 55th minute when he brought down Olawoyin.

In a bid to turn things around, coach Kennedy Boboye made a triple substitution in the 65th minute. Mfon Udoh, Ubong Friday and Ikechukwu left the field for Nasiru Jibril, Wisdom Fernando and Abubakar Aliyu.

The changes brought some sparks with Abubakar Aliyu making some dazzling runs that troubled the Rangers’ defence. He made an instant impact when he forced goalkeeper Seidu to make a save to a goal-bound effort.

There was a scary moment for the hosts when Dare Ojo fouled Ibrahim Olawoyin in a dangerous position. Freekick awarded to the Flying Antelopes. Game time is 80 minutes old, Kelvin Itoya stepped up to the role but his effort couldn’t go beyond the wall.

The closing minutes of the game produced drama. Goalkeeper Seidu was booked for time wastage and the next moment, substitute Issif Traore was sent off for a foul on Atshimene who was chasing a long ball.

Freekick to Akwa United. Defenders David Philip and Olisa Ndah are positioned to take it. Ndah takes it but the ball goes wide. The referee’s final whistle goes off. Game over!

Coach Boboye is not so disappointed with the result. “It wasn’t a bad one. We fought hard but we just unlucky to drop two points at home. Our opponents came to defend and it worked for them.”

With the result, Akwa United extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches, retained top spot but tied on 41 points with Kano Pillars. Sai Masu Gida played 1-1 with Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina. The reliable Rabiu Ali scored a beautiful freekick.

Akwa United’s next match is against Abia Warriors on Thursday at the Okigwe Township Stadium.

NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Matchday 22 Results

Monday

Akwa United 0 Rangers Int’l FC 0

Sunday

Nasarawa United 3 Heartland FC 1

Plateau United 4 Wikki Tourists 1

Adamawa United 3 Warri Wolves 3

FC Ifeanyi Ubah 1 Sunshine Stars 0

MFM FC 1 Lobi Stars 0

Katsina United 1 Kano Pillars 1

Jigawa Golden Stars 1 Dakkada FC 1

Rivers United 0 Abia Warriors 0

Rangers Win Scottish Premiership For First Time In 10 Years

Rangers fans celebrate with flags outside Ibrox Stadium, home of Rangers Football Club, in Glasgow on March 7, 2021 after their first Scottish Premiership title for 10 years was confirmed.
ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers’ first Scottish Premiership title for 10 years was confirmed Sunday after Celtic’s drew 0-0 at Dundee United to stand 20 points behind their Glasgow rivals with six games left to play.

Steven Gerrard’s men have stormed to the title without losing a game to end Celtic’s record-equalling nine consecutive Scottish league titles.

Rangers were not even in the top-flight for four of those seasons after the club was demoted to the fourth tier following liquidation in 2012 due to financial troubles.

“This club has been to hell and back over the past 10 years,” said Gerrard after Saturday’s 3-0 win over St Mirren put Rangers on the brink of a first major trophy since 2011.

“I’ve only been part of it for three, but I can certainly relate and I’ve got that feeling and that affection with the fans and I know what they have been through.”

rangers-international
Rangers fans celebrate with flags outside Ibrox Stadium, home of Rangers Football Club, in Glasgow on March 7, 2021 after their first Scottish Premiership title for 10 years was confirmed.
ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

The former England and Liverpool captain never won a league title during his legendary 17-year career at Anfield.

However, Gerrard has transformed Rangers’ fortunes, both domestically and in Europe, since taking his first senior managerial role in 2018.

The newly crowned Scottish champions have reached the last 16 of the Europa League for the second consecutive season and face Slavia Prague on Thursday.

 


Rangers were denied the chance to rub salt into Celtic wounds by winning the title at Celtic Park in two weeks’ time in their next league fixture.

Celtic dropped points for the 12th time in the league this season with caretaker manager John Kennedy taking charge for just the second time since Neil Lennon resigned last month.

The issues that have dogged Celtic all season cost them at Tannadice as they dominated but failed to find the net with 27 attempts on goal.

“Our objective was to get to 10, but Rangers have been better than us this season,” Kennedy told Sky Sports. “We’ve been champions for so long, but we’ve not been good enough this season.”

Thousands of Rangers fans ignored coronavirus restrictions to descend upon Ibrox on Saturday to get the title celebrations going early.

 

Rangers’ English manager Steven Gerrard gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, 2nd leg football match between Rangers and Royal Antwerp at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on February 25, 2021.RUSSELL CHEYNE / POOL / AFP

 

“Once we got close or achieved our first big part of success together, which was always going to be the hardest, I had a good idea what the reaction would be like,” said Gerrard.

“I think what you’ve seen today is 10 years of what these supporters have been through. I’m delighted for them and really proud of the players efforts because they’ve been outstanding this season.

“From a league point of view, they’ve been close to perfect.”

The Scottish government condemned the scenes outside the stadium on Saturday and pleaded with supporters not to congregate again on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Global Players Brainstorm To Boost COVID-19 Vaccine Output

Justice Minister Humza Yousaf tweeted: “I understand Rangers fans will be desperate to celebrate but please remember you must stay at home.

“No mass gatherings are allowed. We cannot risk any further spread of the virus.”

AFP

Rivers United Begin NPFL Campaign With Win Over Rangers

A file of NPFL logo.

 

Rivers United of Port Harcourt have kicked off their 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League campaign with a 1-0 victory over Rangers International Football Club of Enugu.

Fortune Omoniwari, with an easy finish from Godwin Aguda’s cross, secured victory for coach Stanley Eguma’s team and also boost the team’s confidence ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup second leg fixture against Bloemfontein Celtic of South Africa.

Godwin Aguda produced a man of the match performance to the delight of the few spectators at the Adokiye Amiesimaka and it was his move that was finished by Fortune Omoniwari in the 28th minute.

Despite the sending off of Rivers United’s playmaker Cletus Emotan after committing a second bookable offence in the 73rd minute, the visiting team failed to take advantage of the available 15 minutes to level up.

READ ALSO: NFF Approves Owumi’s Appointment As LMC’s CEO-Designate

In the post-match interview, Rivers United’s Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma expressed how important it was to get all three points.

“It was good for us to win. It really raised our morale and confidence. The league has just started. It wasn’t an easy game. The Rangers too came for the three points. We are rivals and they came here and proved that,” he said.

“I commend my players, they have done well, the three points was very important for a start and I thank them.”

Eguma also spoke about his team’s next league match on Saturday against Abia Warriors in Aba.

“Well it’s the league, we all look for three points at every away encounter. We are looking out for three points and that’s another derby and we expect a tough one but we are prepared for it,” Eguma added.

“Having won today, we expect to win the Abia encounter. We expect to go to Abia State to get a good result.”

 

Nigeria’s Joe Aribo Nets Brace As Rangers Hit Hamilton For Eight

Aribo joined the Ibrox Stadium side last summer from Charlton Athletic. Photo: [email protected] Football Club.

 

Rangers restored their commanding nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an 8-0 humbling of Hamilton on Sunday as Celtic bounced back to form with a 4-1 win at Motherwell.

Steven Gerrard’s men have played two more matches than their Glasgow rivals but showed why they are now the bookmakers’ favourites to end Celtic’s record-equalling run of nine straight league titles.

Hamilton shocked the hosts on their last visit to Ibrox in March but Rangers are a transformed side since Scottish football’s return in August, unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions this season.

Joe Aribo, Kemar Roofe and James Tavernier all scored twice, while Scott Arfield and Brandon Barker were also on target against the rock-bottom Accies.

Gerrard hailed his rampant team, who scored eight goals in the top flight for the first time since 1981.

“It has been coming, we have threatened to do that,” he said. “But the pleasing thing today was that we were very clinical.”

But he remained cautious despite the thumping win.

“Look, we are not at the stage yet where we can play with ego in any game or at any stage. We are trying to become a winning team, a successful team. We are in no position to disrespect any opponent or any team.”

– Celtic struggles –
In stark contrast to Rangers’ fine European form, Celtic suffered a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Mohamed Elyounoussi faced a backlash from ex-Celtic players for being seen on his mobile phone after being substituted in midweek, but responded with a hat-trick at Fir Park to ease the pressure on manager Neil Lennon.

“I thought we were really well motivated, we looked far more like ourselves,” said Lennon. “The players responded brilliantly, it’s a fantastic response and win.

“They know they can play a lot better than they’ve showed. There was better body language about us today, better hunger. That’s what we are looking for, that’s a really good barometer for us now.”

Elyounoussi settled any nerves among the visitors early on as he pounced after Albian Ajeti’s strike came back off the post.

Tom Rogic then teed up the on-loan Southampton winger for his second from close range.

Celtic’s defence has been the source of most of Lennon’s problems in recent weeks and their frailty from set-pieces was again exposed when Declan Gallagher’s header halved Motherwell’s deficit 18 minutes from time.

However, Elyounoussi quickly responded with a towering header of his own at the back post to restore Celtic’s two-goal cushion.

“That was a big misunderstanding, I let my feet do the talking,” said Elyounoussi on the controversy over the phone.

“It was a good day. We got goals, we showed character, responded from Thursday’s game and got the points.”

France under-21 stars Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham have also failed to match their standards of previous seasons so far this campaign.

But they came off the bench to combine for Celtic’s fourth as Edouard teed up Ntcham to side-foot into the bottom corner.

AFP

Rangers Star Defoe In Stable Condition After Car Crash

England and Rangers footballer Jermain Defoe poses with his medal after he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London on November 16, 2018, for services to the Jermain Defoe Foundation. Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP

 

Rangers striker Jermain Defoe said he was “fine” after a car crash following Saturday’s 5-0 win against Aberdeen.

Defoe’s car was in a collision near the Clyde Tunnel in Glasgow but the former Tottenham and England star was not hurt.

The 36-year-old posted a clip on social media after the smash on Balshagray Avenue at around 1700 GMT.

Defoe had scored in his Scottish Premiership club’s victory over Aberdeen at Ibrox just hours earlier.

Defoe thanked fans for their messages on Instagram, adding: “I’m fine, I’m all good, I’m just going to go home and rest up.

“Still a bit in shock but I’m all good. Thank you for all your messages again.”

Rangers said on Twitter: “RangersFC can confirm there was a collision involving striker @IAmJermainDefoe and we are happy and relieved to say that no one was seriously injured.”

AFP

Gerrard Concerned Despite Rangers’ Late Win Over St Johnstone

Gerrard Concerned Despite Rangers' Late Win Over St Johnstone
(File) Steven Gerrard

 

Steven Gerrard believes his players didn’t do the Rangers shirt “any justice” in a laboured first-half performance before bouncing back thanks to two Alfredo Morelos goals to beat St Johnstone 2-1 on Sunday.

The Colombian took his tally for the season to 19 with the winner two minutes from time as Rangers closed to within a point behind Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic, who have a game in hand.

Gerrard’s men had won just one of their previous four games to fall four points behind their Glasgow rivals with the two sides set to meet at Ibrox on December 29.

Another tough afternoon looked on the cards for the visitors at McDiarmid Park when Matty Kennedy’s rising drive gave St Johnstone the lead on the stroke of half-time.

“The first 45 minutes I wasn’t happy, far from it. It was a poor performance, we were awful,” Gerrard told BT Sport.

“We didn’t have one player out there that was doing the shirt any justice, so I certainly wasn’t happy.”

Gerrard introduced Glenn Middleton for Eros Grezda at half-time and the change helped turn the game as Rangers improved dramatically in the second period.

“I made my feelings clear at half-time, made some changes to the 11 and to be fair to the players they played with more bravery, belief and character and gone out there and performed like Rangers players in the second half,” added Gerrard.

“But we shouldn’t have to work that hard to win at places like this with all due respect.”

Middleton’s measured cross picked out Morelos to head home the equaliser 25 minutes from time.

Only Zander Clark in the St Johnstone goal then kept the hosts level as he denied Daniel Candeias and Kyle Lafferty twice with stunning saves.

However, Clark was helpless when Morelos met James Tavernier’s cross to score to spark wild scenes of celebration from the players and fans, but not their manager who remained stoney faced on the sidelines.

“I’m still thinking about the first half,” said Gerrard when asked why he didn’t celebrate.

“I’m thinking big picture where we can take this squad and players. To be fair we are quite bare today in terms of numbers, but that first-half concerned me because what we asked of them before the game just clearly wasn’t there.”

AFP

Gerrard’s Rangers Beat Hearts To Top Premiership

Gerrard's Rangers Beat Hearts To Top Premiership
(File) Rangers’ English manager Steven Gerrard (R) congratulates Rangers’ Scottish goalkeeper Allan McGregor after the UEFA Europa League Group G football match between Rangers and Villarreal at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on November 29, 2018. The game finished 0-0. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Ten-man Rangers beat Hearts 2-1 on Sunday to climb to the top of the Scottish Premiership, with Alfredo Morelos grabbing a contentious winner for Steven Gerrard’s team.

With leaders Celtic busy on League Cup final duty, the Ibrox men travelled to Tynecastle looking to grab the title race initiative against a side without a win in five games.

Gareth McAuley put through his own net in the 27th minute but the Northern Ireland defender was bailed out when his centre-back partner Connor Goldson bundled home the equaliser and Morelos clinched the win shortly before half-time.

Rangers found themselves reduced to 10 men when Scott Arfield was dismissed in the second half but they held on for the win.

Hearts took a deserved lead when McAuley diverted the ball into his own net after a cross from Marcus Godinho.

But the visitors were level just eight minutes later as Morelos nudged a James Tavernier corner to the back post where Goldson forced the ball past goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal and over the line at the second attempt.

Rangers scored again shortly before the interval following a Tavernier free-kick.

Colombian forward Morelos started in an offside position as Tavernier lined up the free-kick wide on the right but the officials failed to spot his encroachment and Morelos made the most of the let-off as his side-foot shot took a nick off Oliver Bozanic before nestling into the far corner.

Hearts were thrown a lifeline with 18 minutes left as Arfield got his marching orders for a challenge on Zlamal but Rangers stayed on the front foot and Hearts could not make the most of their man advantage.

AFP