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Rangers 0-2 Lyon: Ekambi stunner & Tavernier own goal consigns hosts to opening group defeat

Karl Toko Ekambi goal
Karl Toko Ekambi’s sensational curling effort opened the scoring on 23 minutes

Rangers suffered a rare Europa League group defeat after being undone by Lyon in their Group A opener.

Cameroon forward Karl Toko Ekambi arced a stunning 23rd-minute opener before an attempted clearance rebounded off James Tavernier into his own net at Ibrox.

Joe Aribo, Ryan Kent and John Lundstram passed up first-half chances, while Tavernier’s free-kick crashed off the woodwork at 2-0.

However, a composed showing from Lyon ensured they claimed victory.

Both sides registered the same amount of shots on target, but the Ligue 1 team earned their victory with more composure and nous at the right times in an impressive away display.

The defeat is Rangers’ fourth in their opening 11 games across all competitions this season – double what they suffered in 90 minutes throughout the entirety of last term – and brings to an end a 10-match unbeaten run in the Europa League group stage.

Steven Gerrard now has to get his players ready for a home game against Motherwell on Sunday, but the Ibrox boss will be sweating over the fitness of Kent – who was replaced with 20 minutes to go after pulling up.

Lyon’s last trip to Govan in 2007 ended with the French side trouncing Walter Smith’s men 3-0 in the Champions League, with the likes of Juninho, Karim Benzema, Fabio Grosso and Sidney Govou strutting their stuff at Ibrox.

The Ligue 1 side may not boast the same calibre of player nowadays, but the visitors – who played in a Champions League semi-final just over a year ago – still named a line-up littered with talent and have a manager at the helm in Peter Bosz that dismantled Rangers 4-1 on aggregate with Bayer Leverkusen in the 2019-20 campaign.

But, like so often under Gerrard in Europe, the hosts were not phased by what was in front of them as they put the away side under early pressure.

Lyon failed to gain any early composure, looking sloppy in possession, but Bosz’s side began to feel their way into the game midway through the half and broke the deadlock with the game’s first effort on target thanks to Ekambi’s stunner.

The Cameroon winger picked the ball up on the left and sold Lundstram with a couple of stepovers before curling a sensational effort into the bottom-right corner.

Rangers responded well, with a packed Ibrox roaring them on, as Aribo saw an effort from the right of the box parried away by Lopes, while Lundstram dragged a strike from the edge of the area just past the far post.

But, even without ex-striker and top goalscorer Moussa Dembele, Lyon always posed a threat as teenage right-back Malo Gusto dragged an effort of his own wide just minutes later.

Rangers kept throwing punches, though, as Ryan Kent made a yard for himself in the box but had a fierce finish saved superbly by the strong wrist of Lopes.

But the game was put beyond the Scottish side 10 minutes into the second period when Islam Slimani’s finish was cleared off the line by Connor Goldson, but the centre-back’s clearance ricocheted off Tavernier into the net.

Gerrard’s side pushed for a way back into the game, with a fantastic Tavernier free-kick crashing off the woodwork, but the classy French visitors held firm and showed their tactical nous to earn a deserved three points.

Man of the match – Karl Toko Ekambi

Joe Aribo & Ekambi
The forward’s (right) goal is worthy of the award alone, but the 29-year-old’s movement was key to the away side’s attacking threat all night

What did we learn?

Losing to a team of Lyon’s stature and resource is hardly a crisis moment for any Scottish side, but it is hard to shrug off the sense that there is something missing from Rangers this season.

Including qualifiers, they have won just one of their five European games this season. These are occasions that Gerrard’s men have consistently roused themselves for throughout his tenure.

A massive Old Firm victory and a comeback win at Perth last time out looked like it may have been a catalyst for the Ibrox side’s campaign, so Gerrard will be hoping Thursday’s defeat does not detract from that.

Easier said than done, though, especially with concern around Kent’s injury.

What did they say?

Rangers manager Steven Gerrardspeaking to BT Sport: “I think we gave a lot to the game, I don’t want to be too critical because for large parts of the game we competed.

“We created some decent moments without them being clear-cut. I think the scoreline is slightly harsh on us. We made two mistakes for their goals.

“Not to be too harsh, at the domestic level, you can sometimes give the ball away in certain areas but not at this level in the Europa League.”

What’s next?

Rangers are back in league action this Sunday as they welcome Motherwell to Ibrox (15:00 BST).

Matchday two takes place on 30 September when Rangers travel to Sparta Prague and Lyon host Brondby.

What the stats say

  • Rangers suffered defeat at Ibrox in the Europa League group stages for the first time in their 10th such game, with their last group stage European loss on home soil coming in the 2010-11 Champions League against Man Utd (0-1).
  • Lyon haven’t lost any of their last 12 opening games of a new major European campaign (W6 D6) since a 0-3 defeat to Barcelona back in the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League.
  • Since the start of the 2018-19 Europa League campaign, only matches involving Arsenal (114) and Bayer Leverkusen (83) have seen more goals than games with Rangers (81 – 44 scored, 37 conceded).
  • Skipper James Tavernier is one of two players to have scored more than one own goal in the Europa League since the start of last season, alongside Real Madrid’s Jesús Vallejo, who netted both whilst on loan at Granada last season.

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6GoldsonBooked at 14mins
  • 26Balogun
  • 31Barisic
  • 4Lundstram
  • 10DavisSubstituted forWrightat 60′minutes
  • 18Kamara
  • 17AriboBooked at 74minsSubstituted forSakalaat 76′minutes
  • 20MorelosBooked at 74mins
  • 14KentSubstituted forRoofeat 70′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 16Patterson
  • 22Bacuna
  • 23Wright
  • 25Roofe
  • 27Kelly
  • 28McCrorie
  • 30Sakala
  • 33McLaughlin
  • 37Arfield
  • 63McClelland

Lyon

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Lopes
  • 17Gusto
  • 27BoatengBooked at 52minsSubstituted forDiomandéat 65′minutes
  • 5Denayer
  • 3Emerson
  • 25Caqueret
  • 39Guimarães Rodriguez Moura
  • 8Aouar
  • 10Tolentino Coelho de Lima
  • 20SlimaniBooked at 30mins
  • 7Toko EkambiSubstituted forShaqiriat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Diomandé
  • 4Lukeba
  • 12Silva Milagres
  • 18Cherki
  • 19Keita
  • 21Da Silva
  • 29Shaqiri
  • 30Pollersbeck
  • 40Bonnevie
  • 45Barcola

Referee:
Andreas Ekberg

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Rangers 0, Lyon 2.

  2. Second Half ends, Rangers 0, Lyon 2.

  3. Lucas Paquetá (Lyon) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  4. Foul by Kemar Roofe (Rangers).

  5. Bruno Guimarães (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Foul by Scott Wright (Rangers).

  7. Offside, Lyon. Maxence Caqueret tries a through ball, but Lucas Paquetá is caught offside.

  8. Malo Gusto (Lyon) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Foul by Fashion Sakala (Rangers).

  10. Lucas Paquetá (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).

  12. Foul by Emerson (Lyon).

  13. James Tavernier (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Attempt missed. Glen Kamara (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

  15. Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Bruno Guimarães.

  16. Attempt missed. Leon Balogun (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a set piece situation.

  17. Foul by Emerson (Lyon).

  18. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Attempt missed. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Glen Kamara.

  20. Houssem Aouar (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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