In a night where football served its purpose as providing an albeit brief distraction from the horrors Ukraine is undergoing, Rangers managed to record a historic victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League round-of-32, putting Scottish football on the map once again.
When they were initially drawn against Dortmund, few saw the Glasgow side of having any chance of making it past the German giants. Not only did they have Erling Haaland, one of the best players in the world, but the rest of their team was also built using millions of euros. Rangers, meanwhile, relied on free transfers, and players picked up for a pittance from England’s lower divisions.
In the first leg, however, Rangers blew Dortmund away, and in front of their famous ‘Yellow Wall’ Giovanni van Bronckhorst led his team to a unexpected 4-2 victory. The tie, however, was very much not over. Although Haaland had missed the first leg through injury, there were expectations that he would be back for the second, and, with the firepower Dortmund have, you would not have bet against them surmounting their two goal deficit.
But, Rangers, against all the odds, not only did not lose, but managed to come away with a 2-2 draw, triumphing 6-4 on aggregate, in a game they probably should have won. Captain and stalwart James Tavernier scored a penalty to open the scoring, after the brilliant and mercurial Ryan Kent had found his way past a few Dortmund players before being taken down.
Who says Rangers can’t go a little bit further?
With two goals in quick succession Dortmund were on top, with Jude Bellingham and Donyell Malen slotting away tidy finishes to put their side only 5-4 down on aggregate. With the absence of away goals in this year’s European competitions, Dortmund now only needed one goal to level things up, and were very much on top.
Van Bronckhorst realised this, and at the break made a shrewd tactical substitution, removing Borna Barisic and putting on a third centre-half, Leon Balogun. This solidified the defence, who had looked to be wilting under continuous pressure, as Rangers rode the Dortmund wave and sent Ibrox into raptures. They possibly should even have had another, after Alfredo Morelos squared the ball for Ryan Kent to tap in, but VAR called the game back for a questionable foul.
Rangers, however, march on, and, with the team spirit that seems to unite this team and the vocal backing of a fervent Ibrox, who says they can’t go a little bit further?