Rangers’ hopes of Europa League progression remain on track despite a frustrating night at Ibrox against Spartak Moscow.
Steven Gerrard’s side struggled to convert their dominance as they bossed the play against the Russians.
Despite creating several chances, Rangers failed to score for the first time in 11 games at home this season.
The Premiership club sit joint-top of the group with Villarreal – who beat Rapid Vienna 5-0 – on five points.
Alfredo Morelos, Daniel Candeias and Eros Grezda spurned opportunities for the hosts during a dominant display.
However, Rangers extended their unbeaten run in Europe to 11 matches before facing Spartak in Russia on 8 November.
Point gained, not two lost?
Come the conclusion of this Europa League group, Rangers may well look back at this game as a point won on the way to the play-off round.
However, the initial feeling will be one of what could have been on another swashbuckling European night in Govan.
Dominant performances at Ibrox have been the catalyst for Rangers’ European run, and with tales of Spartak being in disarray, big things were expected of Gerrard’s men, who prior to kick off sat clear at the top of Group G.
The Scottish Premiership side flew out of the traps in the first half as the Russians were forced on to the back foot. The best of the chances fell to Candeias, but he opted to cross from eight yards out rather than shoot after bursting into the box.
In the second half, Rangers still had opportunities despite the visitors beginning the brighter of the two teams. Morelos whistled a fine ball across the box with no takers, which was a real sign of their intent and also that their luck may not be in.
From the bench Eros Grezda could, and really should, have been the hero. First, the Albanian fell under clumsy challenge only for Dutch referee Kevin Blom to wave away penalty appeals, then he blazed a glorious chance over the bar from the edge of the area with the last kick of the ball.
However, the fact Rangers fans will have left Ibrox frustrated is an indication of how far this team has come under former Liverpool captain Gerrard.
A hapless team that was beaten last summer by Progres Niederkorn under Pedro Caixinha has been transformed by Gerrard into one that has stepped into the Europa League without fear.
He will be confident they can go to Russia in two weeks’ time and take another stride forward.
‘Rangers have nothing to fear’ – analysis
Former Rangers striker Steven Thompson on BBC Radio Scotland
For Rangers supporters, it’s probably been unthinkable, to be on this type of run in Europe. That’s six clean seats, which is sensational. They have a really good balance. They know how to close out games and be stoic, but they know how to go all out attack as well.
It now becomes tougher, with two tricky away games and although Villarreal is the best team in the group, they’ve nothing to fear at Ibrox based on their European performances so far. They will be very pleased with how the group has started but three points tonight would have made a massive difference.
- Rangers are unbeaten in all 11 European games under Steven Gerrard, winning five and drawing six;
- Spartak have won just one of their last 15 away games (D6 L8) in Europe;
- The Russian side didn’t have a shot on target until the 70th minute, through Sofiane Hanni.
Source BBC News