Report as Rangers throw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 at Benfica in Group D of the Europa League after Alfredo Morelos had scored his 22nd European goal to go past Ally McCoist as the club’s all-time leading marksman on the continent
Football journalist –
Thursday 5 November 2020 20:53, UK
Alfredo Morelos became Rangers’ top European goalscorer but Darwin Nunez’s injury-time strike saw 10-man Benfica snatch a 3-3 draw in the Europa League.
Morelos’s tap in six minutes after half-time – the Colombian’s 22nd goal in Europe seeing him overtake Ally McCoist as Rangers’ leading scorer on the continent – had given his side a 3-1 lead, only for the Portuguese to hit back twice in the final 13 minutes through Rafa Silva and substitute Nunez.
Rangers had made the worst possible start when falling behind after only 60 seconds thanks to Connor Goldson’s unfortunate own goal, only for Nicolas Otamendi’s straight red card (19) to then turn the game on its head as the visitors scored twice in just 88 seconds.
Steven Gerrard’s side levelled matters through Diogo Goncalves’s own goal (24), before Glen Kamara immediately made it 2-1 with his first strike since September 2019.
Benfica: Vlachodimos (6), Goncalves (7), Otamendi (5), Vertonghen (6), Tavares (6), Weigl (6), Rafa Silva (8), Pizzi (7), Taarabt (6), Everton (6), Seferovic (5)
Subs: Gilberto (6), Grimaldo (6), Nunez (8), Waldschmidt (6), Jardel (6)
Rangers: McGregor (6), Tavernier (8), Goldson (6), Helander (5), Barisic (7), Jack (7), Davis (8), Kamara (8), Aribo (7), Kent (7), Morelos (9)
Subs: Arfield (7)
Man of the match: Alfredo Morelos
Nunez’s late effort means both teams remain unbeaten and at the top of Group D ahead of the return meeting at Ibrox.
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How Rangers failed to beat 10-man Benfica
Rangers arrived at the Estadio da Luz knowing that no team had beaten Benfica at home in the Europa League and that task became even harder when they fell behind to the fastest own goal in the competition in more than a decade.
The normally reliable Filip Helander failed to clear his lines, allowing Silva to get in behind, with his pull back ending up in the net off Goldson’s thigh.
But Benfica soon handed Rangers a way back. Steven Davis’s wonderful ball over the top released Ryan Kent, only for Otamendi to trip the midfielder’s heels as he bore down on goal, leaving the referee with no choice but to send off the former Manchester City defender.
Rangers took full advantage by first levelling matters when Goncalves diverted James Tavernier’s driven centre into his own net, before Kamara then rounded off a lovely passing move to hand his team a deserved half-time lead.
The visitors soon increased their advantage when the unmarked Morelos side-footed home another Tavernier cross for his record-breaking 22nd European goal in just 37 games, and all this from a player who cost the club just £1m.
However, if Rangers thought they had become the first-ever team to win a Europa League game at Benfica, they were mistaken, with the home side showing great character to snatch a point late on.
Benfica made four changes from their last league outing, while Rangers boss Steven Gerrard made two changes from the side that won 1-0 at Kilmarnock on Sunday, with Glen Kamara and Steven Davis replacing Scott Arfield and Cedric Itten.
First Silva converted after fine approach play from Nunez, before the substitute himself was played clean through on goal in stoppage time, keeping his cool to break Rangers hearts.
- Benfica remain unbeaten in all 24 of their UEFA Europa League home games since the competition was rebranded in 2009, winning 19 and drawing five.
- Rangers conceded three goals in a match for the first time in 20 games in all competitions (1-3 vs Bayer Leverkusen in March). Indeed, they shipped more goals tonight than they had in their previous nine games in all competitions combined (2).
- There were just 88 seconds between Diogo Gonçalves own goal equaliser for Rangers, and Glen Kamara giving the Scottish side the lead.
- This was the fourth different UEFA Europa League game to see both sides net an own goal, with half of these now involving Rangers (vs Benfica tonight, and vs Spartak Moscow in November 2018).
- Alfredo Morelos scored his 10th UEFA Europa League goal for Rangers, the first player to reach double figures in the competition for the Scottish side (including UEFA Cup).
- Connor Goldson’s own goal to give Benfica the lead was the fastest ever own goal scored in the UEFA Europa League (60 seconds).
Benfica entertain Braga on Sunday at 8pm, while Rangers take on Hamilton at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on the same day, with the game kicking off at 3pm.
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