Rangers well beaten by slick Lyon


Rangers suffered a deflating Europa League group defeat as Lyon won 2-0 at Ibrox.

Karl Toko Ekambi produced a moment of real quality to give Lyon the lead midway through the first half. Collecting the ball after Ryan Kent lost possession, the Lyon winger cut inside and curled an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

Kent then went closest to finding an equaliser for the home side, demanding a sharp save from Anthony Lopes just before the break, but the game was up when Lyon doubled the lead after 55 minutes.

After Houssem Aouar was denied by Allan McGregor, Islam Slimani’s stab towards goal was cleared off the line by Connor Goldson only for the ball to cannon into the luckless James Tavernier and into the net.

If that was not sufficiently unfortunate, Tavernier clipped a free-kick against the outside of a post as Rangers struggled to find a way back into the contest while Kent was forced off with injury.

Lyon rise to Rangers occasion

Lyon's Karl Toko Ekambi celebrates making it 1-0 during a UEFA Europa League group stage match between Rangers and Lyon
Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi celebrates his goal against Rangers

In a tepid start to the game Goldson was booked by referee Swedish referee Andreas Ekberg in the 13th minute for a high tackle on Toko Ekambi which required both players to receive treatment.

The Lyon attacker soon damaged the Ibrox side after Kent was caught in possession in the centre-circle.

The ball was quickly fed out to Toko Ekambi who cut inside John Lundstram and curled a right-footed shot from 25 yards past McGregor and into the far corner of the net, silencing the home supporters.

Karl Toko Ekambi celebrates his goal against Rangers
Ekambi gave Lyon the lead in the 23rd minute

Just before the half-hour mark, as Rangers rallied and pressed for the leveller, Joe Aribo’s angled-drive from 18 yards was parried away by Lyon goalkeeper Lopes and then Lundstram came close with a drive which just escaped the far post.

At the other end, Lyon defender Malo Gusto fired wide of the far post after captain Aouar and Lucas Paqueta sliced through the Gers’ defence. Back came the Govan side again and a Kent drive from 14 yards on the turn was brilliantly beaten away by Lopes.

Team news

Steven Gerrard was boosted by the return of Connor Goldson to the defence after Covid
isolation to replace Filip Helander who will be out for months after sustaining a knee injury against St Johnstone at the weekend. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, left-back Borna Barisic and midfielder John Lundstram also returned.

Lyon’s second goal came after Kent lost possession again, this time at the edge of the box. Aouar’s shot was parried by McGregor, with Paqueta’s shot blocked to Slimani whose close-range shot struck Goldson before it hit Tavernier and limped over the line.

Scruffy as the goal was, it was a long way back for the home side. In the 63rd minute Tavernier’s free-kick from 25 yards struck the outside of the Lyon post and sped behind.

There was no doubting Rangers’ work rate – defender Leon Balogun headed a Tavernier free-kick over the bar in one of several attacks – but Lyon held firm.

Opta stats

  • Rangers have suffered defeat at Ibrox in the UEFA Europa League group stages for the first time in their 10th such game, with their last group stage European loss on home soil coming in the 2010-11 Champions League against Man Utd (0-1).
  • Lyon haven’t lost any of their last 12 opening games of a new major European campaign (W6 D6) since a 0-3 defeat to Barcelona back in the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League.
  • Since the start of the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League campaign, only matches involving Arsenal (114) and Bayer Leverkusen (83) have seen more goals than games with Rangers (81 – 44 scored, 37 conceded).
  • Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi has netted four goals from just six starts in the UEFA Europa League, three of which came whilst at Villareal. He’s now had a direct hand in eight goals in just eight appearances overall in the competition (4 goals, 4 assists).
  • skipper James Tavernier is one of two players to have scored more than one own goal in the UEFA Europa League since the start of last season, alongside Real Madrid’s Jesus Vallejo, who netted both whilst on loan at Granada last season.

What’s next?

Rangers are at home to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, with kick-off at 3pm. Their next Europa League game is away to Sparta Prague on September 30.