Rangers stun Real Betis with thrilling comeback to top Europa League group

Rangers have pulled off a remarkable feat by defeating Real Betis 3-2 in Spain and securing the top spot in their Europa League group. The Scottish champions showed their resilience and quality as they came from behind twice to clinch a historic victory over the La Liga leaders.

Sima and Dessers shine in first half

Rangers started the game brightly and created some good chances, but they were punished for their defensive lapses as Betis took the lead in the 17th minute. Sergio Canales curled a free kick into the top corner, leaving Allan McGregor with no chance. The hosts looked comfortable and confident, but Rangers did not give up. They equalized in the 28th minute, when Abdallah Sima scored a stunning goal from outside the box. The Senegalese striker, who joined Rangers from Slavia Prague in the summer, unleashed a powerful shot that flew past Rui Silva. It was his fourth goal in the Europa League this season.

Rangers were level, but they soon found themselves behind again. Betis restored their lead in the 36th minute, when Nabil Fekir finished off a slick move with a low shot into the corner. The French international, who was linked with a move to Rangers in the past, showed his class and composure. Rangers were under pressure, but they responded once more. They equalized for the second time in the 43rd minute, when Cyriel Dessers scored a brilliant goal from a tight angle. The Belgian striker, who was making his first start for Rangers, showed great skill and awareness to lob the ball over Silva. It was his first goal for the club, and a crucial one.

Roofe seals the deal in second half

The second half was a tense and thrilling affair, as both teams pushed for the winner. Betis had more possession and chances, but Rangers defended well and looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Philippe Clement, who took over as Rangers manager in November, made some tactical changes and substitutions to keep his team in the game. He brought on Kemar Roofe for Dessers in the 64th minute, and it proved to be a masterstroke. Roofe scored the decisive goal in the 71st minute, when he latched onto a long ball from Connor Goldson and slotted it past Silva. It was his sixth goal in the Europa League this season, and his most important one.

Rangers stun Real Betis with thrilling

Rangers had to withstand some late pressure from Betis, who hit the post and forced some saves from McGregor. But they held on to secure a famous win, and a place in the last 16 of the Europa League. They also became the first Scottish team to win away against a Spanish team in European competition, breaking a 14-game winless streak. They also ended Betis’ unbeaten home record this season, and inflicted their first defeat in the Europa League.

Clement praises his team’s character and quality

Clement was delighted with his team’s performance and praised their character and quality. He said: “It was a very strong performance from my team. I got what I asked from the boys. I wanted to see a team with balls, a brave team, not one who only wants to defend but a team that was brave on the ball. And they did. First half better than second half when Betis became stronger and stronger. But then we dug in, stayed together and then the moment came. I cannot be more proud as a coach after this short period together.”

Clement also said that this was one of the great nights of his managerial career, but he also warned his team to stay focused and humble. He said: “I’m lucky, I’ve had some good nights already. But for sure it’s one of the great nights. The bad thing about me is that I’m already thinking to the next one. We’re making steps and there’s still a long way to go. What can this do for the team ahead of Sunday? Nothing. For me, there is no difference because we have won against Betis. It’s a different game. Of course this will give us confidence, but we need to see now that we stay with our feet on the ground. The biggest thing today is that everyone in the dressing room knows that if they stick together and work hard, they get the rewards.”

Rangers will face Aberdeen in the Viaplay Cup final on Sunday, hoping to win their first domestic trophy of the season. They will also find out their opponents for the last 16 of the Europa League on Monday, hoping to emulate their run to the final in 2022.

By Zane Lee

Zane Lee is a talented content writer at Cumbernauld Media, specializing in the finance and business niche. With a keen interest in the ever-evolving world of finance, Zane brings a unique perspective to his articles and blog posts. His in-depth knowledge and research skills allow him to provide valuable insights and analysis on various financial topics. Zane's passion for writing and his ability to simplify complex concepts make his content engaging and accessible to readers of all levels.

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