Slavia Prague inflicted Rangers’ first defeat at Ibrox in just over a year to knock the nine-man Scottish champions out of the Europa League.
Peter Olayinka’s first-half header gave the Czech champions the lead following a 1-1 draw in Prague, and Nicolae Stanciu doubled the advantage after Leon Balogun was shown a second yellow.
Rangers were already down to 10 by then, Kemar Roofe having been sent off within six minutes of coming on for catching goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar in the face with his boot.
There was still time for further tumult in the closing minutes. A strong challenge by Connor Goldson precipitated a melee, and Ondrej Kudela uttered something to Glen Kamara while covering his mouth with a hand.
That enraged Rangers’ players, with Kamara, Goldson and Bongani Zungu particularly incensed and manager Steven Gerrard confronting his opposite number at full-time.
While Rangers will feel they could have shown more of themselves over the two legs of this last-16 tie, Slavia proved themselves the more accomplished side as they backed up their win over Leicester City in the previous round.
Having been rocked in opening 45 minutes of the first leg – which came just four days after their Scottish Premiership title win – Rangers improved in the second-half in Prague and carried that in to the opening exchanges at Ibrox.
However, it was the visitors who struck the away goal they craved after 14 minutes as their captain Jan Boril took advantage of the space afforded to him on the left to whip a cross to the near post, which Olayinka headed down and into the net.
Despite good long-range attempts by Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos, Rangers were largely kept at arms length and Balogun was fortunate not to give away a penalty right before half-time after he gifted away possession to the impressive Abdallah Sima.
It was symptomatic of the centre-back’s sloppy display, and Gerrard will wonder if the result might have been any different had the composed Filip Helander not had a groin niggle and been fit enough to start.
As it was, both sides continued to play with intent but little composure in the opposition half as possession was regularly traded, and in the end the fate of the tie swung on the red cards.
Roofe was clearly just trying to win the ball, but his foot was so high as to be reckless, and Kolar’s injury looked serious. The goalkeeper had to be replaced, but he returned to the bench for the closing moments after receiving treatment.
Rangers actually improved after the first sending off, keeping the ball far better, but Balogun’s rash challenge added to their strife, and Stanciu’s second stunning intervention of the tie ended things with 15 minutes left.
Man of the match – Abdallah Sima
What did we learn?
This was Rangers first defeat in the Europa League this season, but unfortunately it came at a critical time. For the second season in a row, they have proved themselves an impressive side at this level, but have fallen at the last-16 stage again.
While last term they came up against a Bayer Leverkusen side who were clearly a class above, the frustration will be that Slavia – while a very well-coached team with plenty of talent – were beatable.
Despite a strong start, Rangers never got going with the two changes to the team from the first leg not paying off. Scott Arfield could not get across fast enough to shut down the cross for the opener and was careless in possession, while Balogun had a night to forget.
Overall, there are plenty of positives for Gerrard to take from this campaign. But he will also have plenty to ponder as they enter the Champions League third qualifying round in July, where they will have to overcome opponents such as Slavia if they are to reach the group stage.
- Rangers have now lost seven of their eight last-16 ties in the Europa League/Uefa Cup, only progressing against Werder Bremen in 2007-08.
- Slavia earned their first win in Scotland (W1 L2) to reach the quarter finals of the Europa League/Uefa Cup for a fourth time (1995-96, 1999-00, 2018-19 & 2020-21).
- This was Rangers first home defeat of the season, having been unbeaten in all 21 matches at Ibrox in all competitions (W20 D1).
- Rangers had two players sent off in a single European game for the first time.
- Slavia’s Peter Oladeji Olayinka has been involved in five goals in his last nine appearances in Europe (3 goals, 2 assist), after 3 in 24 before that.
With the title already in the bag, Rangers cross Glasgow to try to rub salt in the wounds of rivals Celtic in the third Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday (12:00 GMT).
- 16PattersonSubstituted forSimpsonat 78′minutes
- 6GoldsonBooked at 89mins
- 26BalogunBooked at 73mins
- 37ArfieldSubstituted forRoofeat 55′minutesBooked at 61mins
- 10DavisSubstituted forIttenat 83′minutes
- 18KamaraBooked at 38mins
- 17AriboBooked at 86mins
- 20MorelosSubstituted forZunguat 82′minutes
- 14KentSubstituted forWrightat 83′minutes
- 1KolarSubstituted forVágnerat 65′minutes
- 15KudelaBooked at 89mins
- 4DeliBooked at 56mins
- 25HromadaSubstituted forHolesat 58′minutes
- 19DorleyBooked at 35minsSubstituted forKuchtaat 58′minutes
- 7StanciuSubstituted forLingrat 90′minutes
- 9Oladeji OlayinkaSubstituted forMasopustat 58′minutes
Match ends, Rangers 0, Slavia Prague 2.
Second Half ends, Rangers 0, Slavia Prague 2.
Foul by Scott Wright (Rangers).
Ondrej Lingr (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Slavia Prague. Conceded by Bongani Zungu.
Corner, Slavia Prague. Conceded by Glen Kamara.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jan Boril.
Substitution, Slavia Prague. Ondrej Lingr replaces Nicolae Claudiu Stanciu.
Ondrej Kudela (Slavia Prague) is shown the yellow card.
Connor Goldson (Rangers) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Connor Goldson (Rangers).
Jan Kuchta (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Joe Aribo (Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joe Aribo (Rangers).
Jan Boril (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Rangers. Scott Wright replaces Ryan Kent.
Substitution, Rangers. Cedric Itten replaces Steven Davis.
Substitution, Rangers. Bongani Zungu replaces Alfredo Morelos.
Attempt missed. Alexander Bah (Slavia Prague) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Lukas Masopust following a corner.
Corner, Slavia Prague. Conceded by Glen Kamara.