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The road to Seville: From Malmo to Leipzig, Rangers’ route to the Europa League final

© Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC/ShutterJames Tavernier leads his side out for the semi-final return leg against RB Leipzig at Ibrox. Another big performance will be required to land the silverware on Wednesday night
James Tavernier leads his side out for the semi-final return leg against RB Leipzig at Ibrox. Another big performance will be required to land the silverware on Wednesday night

It’s taken 18 games, 25 goals and blood, sweat and tears to get there. But Rangers now have a date with destiny inside the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

Here’s a look at how they defied the odds.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND)

03-08-2021 – Malmo 2 RANGERS 1 (Davis 90)

10-08-2021 – RANGERS 1 (Morelos 19) Malmo 2

Steven Gerrard on the touchline (Pic: Kirk O’Rourke/Rangers FC/Shutterstock)

A firecracker of a campaign began with a damp squib.

It was widely believed that Rangers would get past Swedish champions, Malmo, to progress towards the Champions League group stage, but it was not to be.

A narrow defeat in the first leg gave hope for the Ibrox return, but Steven Gerrard’s side flopped by the same scoreline.

EUROPA LEAGUE (PLAY-OFF ROUND)

19-08-2021 – RANGERS 1 (Morelos 67) Alashkert 0

26-08-2021 – Alashkert 0 RANGERS 0

The game in Armenia (Pic: Hayk Baghdasaryan/Shutterstock)

Rangers overcame a Covid outbreak and stifling heat in Armenia to defend the first-leg goal from Alfredo Morelos and reach the Europa League group stage for the fourth consecutive season.

Steven Gerrard and captain James Tavernier didn’t travel, nor did both front-line keepers, Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin. That saw young Robby McCrorie makes his European debut, and he held firm, despite being clattered by James Santos, which saw him sent off.

GROUP STAGE

16-09-2021 – RANGERS 0 Lyon 2

30-09-2021 – Sparta Prague 1 RANGERS 0

21-10-2021 – RANGERS 2 (Balogun 18, Roofe 30) Brondby 0

04-11-2021 – Brondby 1 RANGERS 1 (Hagi 77)

Leon Balogun wheels away after he heads home the opener against Brondby (Pic: Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

After a stuttering start to the group campaign, four points against Brondby got the Gers back on track.

Ianis Hagi’s equaliser 13 minutes from time earned a draw in Denmark, and had the Light Blues’ legions beginning to believe anything was possible.

25-11-2021 – RANGERS 2 (Morelos 15, 49) Sparta Prague 0

© SNS Group
Alfredo Morelos celebrates making it 2-0 with Joe Aribo against Sparta Prague (Pic: Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Game on. A double from Alfredo Morelos saw Rangers qualify for the knock-out phase with a game to spare.

It was Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first Euro tie since replacing Steven Gerrard, and it wasn’t a bad way to start.

But he had Allan McGregor to thank for some crucial saves.

09-12-2021 – Lyon 1 RANGERS 1 (Wright 42)

Sir Kenny Dalglish: My message to Rangers is: ‘Give it everything you’ve got, and have no regrets’

KNOCKOUT ROUND PLAY-OFF

17-02-2022 – Borussia Dortmund 2 RANGERS 4 (Tavernier pen 38, Morelos 41, Lundstram 49, Zagadou og 54)

24-02-2022 – RANGERS 2 (Tavernier pen 22, 57) Borussia Dortmund 2

The result that made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice. Even without Erling Haaland, not many gave Rangers an earthly against the German giants, but going 3-0 up early in the second half had Bluenoses in dreamland.

The hosts fought back to make the return a live issue. The Gers won through, however, with a 2-2 draw.

ROUND OF 16

10-03-2022 – RANGERS 3 (Tavernier pen 11, Morelos 15, Balogun 51) Red Star Belgrade 0

17-03-2022 – Red Star Belgrade 2 RANGERS 1 (Kent 56)

Ryan Kent nets in Belgrade (Pic: Luke Nickerson/Shutterstock)

Another tricky tie that Van Bronckhorst’s side negotiated with ease.

3-0 up from the first leg, the hostile Belgrade welcome made the outcome no foregone conclusion.

And after losing an early goal, Ryan Kent’s sublime finish made sure.

Steven Whittaker: This Rangers team is more entertaining in the way they go about their business than we were. They can win this

QUARTER-FINALS

07-04-2022 – Braga 1 RANGERS 0

14-04-2022 – RANGERS 3 (Tavernier 2, pen 44, Roofe 101) Braga 1 (AET)

Kemar Roofe scores in extra time against Braga (Pic: Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

A goal down from the first leg in Portugal, a raucous Ibrox atmosphere was silenced seven minutes from time when Braga got the goal that took the tie into an extra half-hour.

Kemar Roofe ensured the volume was ramped up again, and Braga finished the night with nine men.

SEMI-FINALS

28-04-2022 – RB Leipzig 1 RANGERS 0

05-05-2022 – RANGERS 3 (Tavernier 19, Kamara 24, Lundstram 81) RB Leipzig 1

The result that sparked the Spanish Armada, and broke the internet as fans rushed to their devices to book planes, trains and automobiles to Seville.

John Lundstram, who has gone from villain to hero during the Europa run, scored the winning goal nine minutes from time – and Ibrox registered on the Richter Scale.