Rangers 0-2 Lyon: Gerrard's milestone European match ends in defeat

By Sports Desk September 16, 2021

Steven Gerrard's 50th European match as a manager ended in defeat as Rangers were beaten 2-0 by Lyon in their Europa League opener.

Having reached the last 16 in each of the previous two Europa League campaigns, Rangers were looking to make home advantage count against what look set to be their toughest rivals in Group A.

But Lyon – whose previous European match was a Champions League semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich in 2020 – had too much quality on Thursday.

Karl Toko Ekambi's 23rd-minute stunner put Lyon ahead, with James Tavernier's own goal condemning Rangers to their first ever Europa League group stage defeat at Ibrox.

Connor Goldson could easily have been dismissed for a reckless challenge on Toko Ekambi in the 13th minute as Lyon settled quicker, though the visiting forward showed no signs of being hindered with an exceptional opener.

Having been given time to approach the area, Toko Ekambi fooled John Lundstram with some fine footwork before curling a sublime finish across Allan McGregor and into the bottom-right corner.

Joe Aribo stinging the palms of Anthony Lopes sparked the home crowd into life, and Lundstram almost atoned for his part in Lyon's opener with a low strike that flashed inches wide.

Lopes had to be at his best to keep Ryan Kent, though Islam Slimani might have put Lyon 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time had he connected with Malo Gusto's cross.

Yet Lyon struck again early in the second half. Rangers were cut open by Lucas Paqueta's pass and though Slimani's effort was blocked, the rebound bounced in off the unfortunate Tavernier.

Tavernier was inches away from dragging Rangers back into it with a superb free-kick, only for the post to come to Lyon's rescue as Gerrard's milestone match in Europe proved a disappointing one.

What does it mean? Ibrox no fortress for Rangers

Of his 50 European matches in charge, Gerrard has won 25, drawn 16 and lost nine, with his team conceding 48 times in total.

Rangers had never lost a Europa League group game at Ibrox before Thursday's defeat, though including qualifiers, they have now lost three of their past four home matches in European competition, and Gerrard will need to find a way to turn that around if they are to mount a challenge in this tournament.

Toko Ekambi's quality shines through

With Memphis Depay now at Barcelona, Toko Ekambi – who scored 14 Ligue 1 goals last season – has the chance to assert himself as a major threat for Lyon this season.

He had failed to score in his five Ligue 1 appearances prior to the trip to Glasgow, but his finish – from one of his two attempts – was a sign of the quality the former Villarreal forward has in his locker. It could well kick-start his campaign.

Goldson caught cold

Just back from injury, Goldson looked way off the pace at the centre of Rangers' defence, with his early booking for a lunge on Toko Ekambi limiting his impact even further. 

He was still typically combative, winning possession back on seven occasions – a joint team-high – but it often looked as though Slimani had the beating of him.

What's next?

Rangers are back at Ibrox on Sunday, hosting Motherwell, while Lyon face the small task of an away trip to Paris Saint-Germain in their next Ligue 1 outing.

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