Rangers have crashed out of the Champions League at the first hurdle, losing 2-1 at home to 10-man Malmo which meant they lost their third qualifying round tie 4-2 on aggregate.
The defeat is a bitter blow for Gers boss Steven Gerrard who had a 100% record in European qualification before the defeat. Rangers had taken the lead through the returning Alfredo Moreles and were handed a boost when Malmo’s Bonke Innocent was given a second yellow card on the stroke of half time.
However, after the break the visitors rallied with a brace from Antonio Colak ending the Gers’ Champions League dreams.
Rangers went into the second leg 2-1 down after a spirited second half performance was enough to give Malmo victory last Tuesday. The Scottish champions would have faced an even tougher test to qualify if not for Steven Davis’ last-gasp goal.
They started the return fixture promisingly. Buoyed by a raucous capacity crowd at Ibrox, they spurned a big chance inside five minutes with Joe Aribo’s effort deflecting wide after great work from Moreles.
Soon after, they did score. Ryan Kent was instrumental in the goal with his excellent cross allowing Moreles the simplest of finishes at the back post. After going ahead Rangers pressed home their advantage and they could not believe their luck when Innocent was found guilty of a second bookable offence and dismissed seconds before the half-time whistle.
Unbelievably, Rangers could not score the goal they needed to progress in the second half with Malmo netting a quickfire double to leave them reeling. Their talisman, Colak, scored twice in four minutes to deal a heart-wrenching blow to Gerrard’s charges. The Gers pressed hard after this but could not find a breakthrough.
The defeat means Rangers drop down into the Europa League playoffs. Failure to win there and they may end up in the UEFA Conference League alongside Tottenham Hotspur.