Rangers 1 – 3 Ajax

Rangers recorded their worst campaign in Champions League history as they lost 3-1 to Ajax in their final group game.

Rangers needed a five-goal swing to beat Ajax to third place and the Europa League, knowing a two-goal defeat would leave them bottom in Europe.

Goals from Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Francisco Conceicao made it six straight defeats for the Ibrox side, as James Tavernier’s penalty could not prevent them recording a minus-20 goal difference.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side became the first Scottish side to lose all of their group games in Europe’s biggest competition, while Ajax finished third and secured a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

As Rangers ended a dismal campaign with an unwanted record

Rangers recorded the worst campaign in the history of the Champions League
James Tavernier gave the Rangers fans something to cheer about with a penalty

Assembling the squad was a challenge in itself for van Bronckhorst, who had suspended midfielder John Lundstram and nine injured players – including defenders Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz from the weekend win over Aberdeen.

Replacements were left back Borna Barišić and veteran midfielders Steve Davis and Scott Arfield.

Former Gers defender Calvin Bassey was in a strong Ajax side that struck first and early to dampen early optimism.

Ajax are celebrating after Mohammed Kudus made it 2-0 against Rangers
Ajax won 2-0 tonight

In the fourth minute, to finish off a slick attack from the left, Kudus set up Berghuis to beat Gers goalkeeper Allan McGregor from the edge of the penalty area.

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It was already looking ominous for Rangers – McGregor had to pull back to get Berghuis’ shot under his crossbar – but the underpowered home side eventually rallied and went in search of an equaliser.

The worst campaign in the history of the Champions League

  • Rangers are the first Scottish team to go through the group without a point.
  • Dinamo Zagreb previously held the unwanted worst result with a minus 19 goal difference from the 2011-12 season. – a tally equaled by Viktoria Plzen this term, but overshadowed by the Scottish Premiership.

In the 13th minute cover Bassey headed Fashion Sakala off the line after good work by winger Ryan Kent who crossed from the left.

However, another lapse in concentration allowed Ajax to extend their lead, this time Owen Wijndal setting up Kudus – whose deflected shot came from teenage defender Leon King to beat McGregor.

The goalkeeper made a good save from Steven Bergwijn a few minutes later, and the first whistles of frustration from the stands arrived soon after when Kudus shot wide of the far post.

Rangers conceded 22 goals in six matches

More muffled boos greeted the half-time whistle, but there were attempts by the fans to get their side in the lead at the start of the second half, although a comeback was unlikely.

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Kudus had the ball in the net in the 55th minute after a sharp move, but Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg ruled it out for offside after a VAR check.

Just before the hour, Glen Kamara, Alfredo Morelos and Scott Wright came on for Davis, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman, but Ajax, backed by a large and vocal traveling support, remained in control.

A great shot on Arfield’s turnover in the 70th minute was put over the goal by underemployed Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer, but the corner was saved.

Alfredo Morelos missed a chance to score for Rangers
Alfredo Morelos missed a chance to score for Rangers

In the 84th minute, Morelos took advantage of a mistake by Pasveer, but failed to hit the goal post.

Moments later, Rangers substitute Rabbi Matondo, in place of Kent, was brought down by Edson Alvarez in the box and Tavernier fired home the penalty.

However, Conceicao, who had only been on the pitch for a minute, fired over from close range and referee Nyberg soon blew the whistle to end a campaign that is going down in history for all the wrong reasons for the Glasgow club.

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What the manager said

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Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst hopes his side can return to the Champions League next season and make an impact.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst wants his players to learn from a difficult campaign:

“You know there is a difference, but you don’t want to concede so many goals against yourself.

“If you see the goals we’ve conceded in many games this season, especially at home against Liverpool, we struggled in those moments and it’s a big experience for us.”

What’s next?

Sunday, November 6 at 11:00 am

Start at 12:00

Rangers have three more Scottish Premiership games before the World Cup. They travel to St Johnstone on Sunday, live on Sky Sports; start at 12 o’clock. Rangers then face Hearts on Wednesday 9 November; start at 7:45 p.m.

Their final game before the tournament is on Saturday 12 November when they travel to St Mirren, live on Sky Sports; start at 12:30 p.m.

Ajax also have three more Eredivisie games ahead of the World Cup, against PSV Eindhoven, Vitesse Arnhem and Emmen.


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