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.

READ ALSO: Aguero Close To Barcelona Deal, Says Man City Coach Guardiola

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

Gerrard’s Rangers Move Ahead Of Beaten Celtic

Rangers’ players.                                                                                                 Photo:PAU BARRENA / AFP

 

Rangers’ rise under Steven Gerrard continued with a 5-1 thrashing of St Johnstone to move into second in the Scottish Premiership, while Celtic slipped to sixth after a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock on Sunday.

Stuart Findlay’s header deep into stoppage time at Rugby Park compounded Celtic’s awful start to the campaign.

A second defeat in the Scottish champions’ first six league games, after also failing to qualify for the Champions League, leaves Celtic six points behind early leaders Hearts.

“When you are a huge club, the demand is to win,” said Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

“In the last couple of years we’ve done that really well and playing in a style that is synonymous with the club. It hasn’t been the same but we have to work to make it better.”

Rodgers made six changes from the side that laboured to a 1-0 Europa League win over Rosenborg in midweek.

Leigh Griffiths was recalled to the starting line-up after coming off the bench to grab the winner against the Norwegian champions and his diving header put the visitors in front 11 minutes before half-time.

Celtic posted a record turnover of £100 million ($130 million) this week, but their failure to strengthen in the transfer window despite selling star striker Moussa Dembele to Lyon is already being exposed in their bid for an eighth straight Scottish title.

They have now scored just six times in their opening six games and rarely looked like adding to their lead before Chris Burke fired in off the post from 20 yards to bring Kilmarnock level.

Celtic continued to dominate possession without seriously threatening, and were caught again by a sucker punch in the 93rd minute when Findlay stooped to head Burke’s corner into the far corner, sparking wild scenes of celebration from Killie boss Steve Clarke.

In four meetings with Rodgers since Clarke took charge just under a year ago, Kilmarnock have now beaten and drawn with Celtic twice.

Rangers took full advantage to close to within five points of Hearts as they showed no hangover from an impressive 2-2 draw at Villarreal in the Europa League on Thursday.

Captain James Tavernier curled home a free-kick to open the scoring before Alfredo Morelos doubled the hosts’ advantage at Ibrox.

Scott Arfield, Kyle Lafferty and Daniel Candeias were also on target after the break, while Blair Alston scored a consolation for the Saints from the penalty spot.

AFP

Europa League: Chelsea Secure Slim Victory, Rangers Hold Villarreal

Chelsea’s French forward Olivier Giroud (L) and Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso Mendoza (C) celebrate after Chelsea won the UEFA Europa League Group L first-leg football match against PAOK Thessaloniki at the Toumba stadium in Thessaloniki on September 20, 2018. Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP

 

Willian’s early goal in Greece gave Premier League leaders Chelsea a 1-0 win over PAOK in the Europa League on Thursday, while Steven Gerrard’s Rangers twice fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at Villarreal.

Eden Hazard was omitted from the Chelsea squad at his own request due to fatigue, but manager Maurizio Sarri fielded a strong side for the Blues’ opening game in Group L at a hostile Toumba Stadium.

Brazil winger Willian struck after just seven minutes with a first-time finish after an assist from Ross Barkley to extend Chelsea’s winning run to six games in all competitions.

Rangers acquitted themselves well on their first appearance in the group stage of a European competition since the 2010-11 Champions League, as they came away with battling point in Spain.

A disastrous start for the Scottish side saw Carlos Bacca fire Villarreal ahead inside 60 seconds, but Scott Arfield turned home a cross from Daniel Candeias to level on 67 minutes.

Gerard Moreno put the hosts back in front almost immediately, only for Kyle Lafferty to again hit back for Rangers as Gerrard’s men made a solid start in Group G.

Marseille, last season’s runners-up, slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in Group H as Luka Jovic grabbed an 89th-minute winner for the reigning German Cup champions.

Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring early for Marseille, who were playing behind closed doors at the Stade Velodrome after numerous crowd incidents last season.

But Lucas Torro levelled on 52 minutes for Eintracht before Jovic’s late strike won it.

Record five-time winners Sevilla launched their Group J campaign with a 5-1 rout of Standard Liege, as Ever Banega and Wissam Ben Yedder both netted twice for the Spaniards.

AFP

Gerrard Wishes He Was Playing In Old Firm Debut

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss
Former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard smiles as he holds up a Rangers scarf in the trophy room as he is unveiled as Rangers’ new manager at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on May 4, 2018. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is prepared for the cauldron of Celtic Park in his first taste of the Old Firm derby on Sunday but wishes he was still playing rather than taking charge of the visitors.

Legendary former Liverpool captain Gerrard has made an impressive start to his first senior managerial role in Glasgow.

Rangers are unbeaten in 12 games under Gerrard and sealed their place in the Europa League group stages, where they will face Villarreal, Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow, on Thursday by holding out for a 1-1 draw at Russian side Ufa despite being reduced to nine men.

The blue side of the Glasgow divide were thrashed 5-0 on their last visit to Celtic Park as the Scottish champions sealed a seventh straight title in May.

But Gerrard’s arrival and 14 new signings have injected a fresh air of optimism at Ibrox over the past three months.

“This is a big game for me of course, I can’t compare it to playing but I wish I was on Sunday,” said Garrard. “These are the games you want to be part of.

“We know Celtic will come out the blocks quick to try and get the crowd going. We have to be ready from the first whistle.”

Gerrard’s former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has an excellent record in Old Firm games since taking charge of Celtic two years ago.

The Northern Irishman has overseen nine wins and two draws in 11 meetings with Rangers, racking up an aggregate score of 30-6 in the process.

But Gerrard believes his side showed a resolve not seen in many years at Rangers with a robust defensive display to seal a 2-1 aggregate win in Russia in midweek and can cross the city confident of a first victory at Celtic Park since 2010 on Sunday.

“It’s a big game on Sunday against a tough team so we have to recover and prepare well. We are going there confident,” added Gerrard.

“We have players in the squad with experience playing in front of a big crowd but we are aware of the challenge of playing away from home.

“We feel like we are building something special here, these are the sort of games we want to be a part of and it will be fantastic for the supporters and the squad.”

AFP

Mixed Feelings For Gerrard After First Premiership Win

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss
Former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard smiles as he holds up a Rangers scarf in the trophy room as he is unveiled as Rangers’ new manager at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on May 4, 2018. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Former Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard complimented his Rangers players in delivering him his first victory as manager in the Scottish Premiership but warned them to improve their discipline following the 2-0 win over St Mirren on Sunday.

Gerrard’s side had shown great resolve to take the three points as Ross McCrorie got a straight red card just after the half-hour mark for a professional foul on Nicolai Brock-Madsen.

However, they were already 2-0 up when McCrorie was sent off.

Alfredo Morelos, who was sent off last weekend although his red card has been rescinded and reduced to a yellow, got his third goal of the season after some sloppy St Mirren defending and center-back Connor Goldson struck with his first goal for the club to give Rangers a two-goal advantage.

“I’ve spoken to the team and praised them for the result,” said Gerrard, whose side opened with a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen last weekend and are two points off leaders Hearts after two matches.

“But I’ve also spoken about discipline and composure out there.

“It’s difficult enough with 11 men. We’re picking up too many red and yellow cards for my liking. But we’ll learn, grow and keep going.”

Goldson went close to making it 3-0 as his header hit the post.

St Mirren had very little to offer although Danny Mullen, who has been in fine form with three to his name this term, hit the bar.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers quashed suggestions he could walk away from the Scottish champions due to disagreements with the club’s board over transfer spending despite falling to an early season 1-0 defeat at Hearts on Saturday.

Rodgers has masterminded two consecutive domestic trebles since joining the Glasgow giants, but publicly voiced his frustration at not adding to his squad before a 1-1 draw at home to Greek champions AEK Athens in the Champions League third qualifying round in midweek.

Northern Irish veteran Kyle Lafferty’s fine strike from the edge of the box 11 minutes after half-time sent Craig Levein’s men to the top of the table with maximum points from their opening two games.

“Of course we want quality players but there’s still improvement in this squad, this team, lots of young players so we’ll continue to work with and improve them,” said Rodgers.

“I love my life here. Despite all reports, there’s talk of ultimatums with the board, I don’t work that way, my communication is very open, so that’s certainly not the case.”

AFP