Seriously, how could Rangers score three times in Moscow of all places, hit the post and create half a dozen good chances – plus they were denied a goal – and still lose a game of football?
This was a night when too many players failed to do the basis. The defending was atrocious. No other word for it. Well there is but they’re too sweary.
The back four were all over the place and those in front of them hardly helped.
Allan McGregor lost four goals and was his side’s best player. It was an extraordinary night in the Russian capital and it must have put years on Steven Gerrard.
The manager made mistakes as well but he is entitled to think a fairly experienced defence could do simple stuff like win headers, block crosses and not dive into tackles.
Rangers are still in this group but for them to score three goals away from in Europe, take the lead three times and not even win a point is, quite frankly, unacceptable.
Buy, anyway, do you want an omen if you are into that kind of thing?
The last time Rangers went ahead three times in a European game and lost was in the 1971/72 season when they went down 4-3 in Portugal to Sporting Lisbon.
They got through in extra-time on away goals and went on to win the Cup-Winners’ Cup.
How on earth did that happen?
In all the games this club have played in European football, and it began against Nice in 1956, there surely has never been such a difference in terms of performance from one end of the park to the other.
Every time Rangers went forward they looked like scoring. The slight problem being the same could be said of Spartak.Even more so.
Alfredo Morelos was a terrific focal point. His work off the ball was a credit to him. He was helped by Glenn Middleton, who can hold his head high, and Daniel Candeias, who was good again.
They got forward in numbers. The passing outside and inside Spartak’s area superb, the finish clinical and they even got some luck with an own goal- which was cancelled out by Morelos being onside but was wrongly flagged when he superbly scored from a superb Candeias cross. That would have made it 4-2.
But when asked to defend, right from the start, the back four and midfield could do nothing about Spartak’s front men.
Connor Goldson’s own goal – what was he doing – summed up a dreadful performance, although if anything Nikola Katic was worse. He had a nightmare. And it would have been merciful to have kept Jon Flannigan inside at half-time.
Does any blame lie with the manager?
Yes, to an extent. Again, he was slow to make changes when they were needed. This has been picked up by supporters.
Gerrard might point to three goals scored and being done out of a 4-2 half-time lead, and he’d be well within his rights, but he could have managed the game better when Spartak clicked into gear.
Rangers were overrun and Ryan Jack stayed on the bench when he seemed perfect for the deep lying role.
Allan McGregor’s season is now getting silly
I counted five – there were probably more – really good saves made by the Rangers goalkeeper. He did not deserve to lose.
Whether he flew through the air to get to shots heading into the top corner or instinctively keeping the ball out with his feet and legs, this was another fine performance.
He would have had something to say to his team-mates in the dressing room.
Also, Middleton really came of age. He took his goal well, his delivery was good and while he was caught out once or twice when asked to get back – he was hardly alone there – this was a really good performance from an exciting Scottish teenager.
So, where does that leave Rangers?
They remain in with a big chance of finishing second.
The head-to-head against Spartak might be the thing which does for them, and how frustrating would that be, but Group G is alive for Gerrard’s team.
You would have to imagine that four points would be required. It’s Villarreal at home next and then the last game will be played before Christmas away to Rapid Vienna.
This was a sore one for Rangers and their supporters but in the cold light of day, after 12 games, their European campaign is alive.
Best to improve the defending right enough.
It was some game of football
Only the foolish or the brave, but mostly foolish, would try to appease the Rangers manager by congratulating him on his team’s part in a seven goal thriller.
However, it was still a superb watch and that is something else for Gerrard to cling to.
Let’s go back to April when Celtic were running amok against one of the worst Rangers teams of all time. Just even months later, a Rangers side went to Moscow and gave Spartak one hell of a scare.
James Tavernier hit the post in the last minute and, it’s fair to say, Rangers created enough chances to take a point.
That is some amount of progress from Proges.