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Rangers shock Dortmund in memorable day for Scottish football

On the same day that city rivals Celtic lose to Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt, Rangers do the impossible against one of Europe’s elite.

Of the seven billion people on the planet, no one will be happier today than the supporters of Glasgow Rangers. The Teddy Bears often find themselves content at just seeing their city rivals lose, so to witness a particularly embarrassing Celtic defeat only hours after their club’s greatest European win in recent memory would’ve etched the 17th of February into Gers folklore. An unforgettable night for many finished with score lines of ‘Borussia Dortmund 2-4 Rangers’ and ‘Celtic 1-3 Bodø/Glimt’.

10 years ago, Rangers had just declared bankruptcy and were forcefully relegated to the fourth tier; 10 years later, Rangers traveled to the Bundesliga’s second most successful club for a Europa League knockout tie. Despite the occasion, the Light Blues were seen as massive underdogs as things got underway at the 80,000 capacity Signal Iduna Park, with many just hoping to still be ‘in’ the tie by the end of the day.

It was the German side who began strongest, as two big chances were wasted by Dan-Axel Zagadou and club legend Marco Reus within the opening half an hour. With the home side creating chances early, fans in Dortmund would’ve had their eyes on a win, even without injured star man Erling Haaland. The tide changed in the 35th minute when VAR detected a handball in the Dortmund box following a Rangers corner. Fullback James Tavernier had scored 30 of his 36 career penalties before this game, and he added another to his tally as he curled it to the right of keeper Gregor Kobel.

James Tavernier celebrates wildly as Rangers beat Dortmund

Only minutes later, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men caused more problems with another corner. With minutes to go until halftime, Tavernier whipped the ball in, Joe Aribo headed across goal and Alfredo Morelos tapped in his third goal in as many games.

The population of Glasgow would’ve been hysterical (half positively, half negatively) at the sight of a previously unimaginable 2-0 halftime lead, and it wouldn’t take long after the restart for those feelings to get even stronger. Four minutes after the game resumed, Ryan Kent breezed through the Dortmund midfield, turned Manuel Akanji inside out, and played the ball to John Lundstram on the edge of the box who then produced a wonderful strike into the bottom corner. Liverpool fans will remember the amount of hype around English winger Ryan Kent when the youngster first came through at Anfield; three years down the line from his departure from Merseyside, Kent is tearing past international defenders and setting up screamers in one of Europe’s most iconic stadiums.

Following Rangers’ third goal, Dortmund began to regain a footing in the match, and Rangers were soon pulled down from Cloud Nine. 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko has attracted global press due to his impressive stature and record of 141 goals in 88 games for Dortmund’s youth sides, and it was Moukoko’s run that sparked Dortmund’s attempted fightback. After the young German twisted and turned around light blue shirts, the ball fell to Rafa Guerreiro who laid the ball off to English international Jude Bellingham to strike home (in a very similar fashion to Lundstram, only minutes earlier).

This fixture saw goals contributions from several English players; goals from Tavernier and Lundstram assists from Aribo and Kent. But it was a Brit playing in Germany that made the biggest impact for his side. Despite Dortmund’s misfortunes, the much-admired Bellingham barely put a foot wrong all game. The former Birmingham City youngster completed five of his six attempted dribbles and found his target with 80% of his long balls.

Any supposed comeback was short-lived, however, as the ball landed in Dortmund’s goal once again within five minutes. Moukoko, who had done so well with the ball when creating Dortmund’s goal, had the ball taken off him by Kent leading directly to a counter-attack. Following a slick one-two with Joe Aribo, it was Alfredo Morelos who once again did the damage for Rangers, with the Colombian’s shot forcing Dan-Axel Zagadou into an own goal.

Giovanni Van Bronkhorst celebrates

With 10 minutes until the end of the fixture, supporters from the blue side of Glasgow would’ve been drooling over the idea of bringing a three-goal lead back to Ibrox for the second leg (even if they have to face Erling Haaland). These supporters would face a bittersweet end to the game, however, as Guerreiro thundered the ball past McGregor, making the final score of the first leg finish 4-2.

Eyes were on the Scottish Premiership when Aaron Ramsey signed for Rangers on deadline day, and football fans may assume that this shock result is in part due to the performance of the Wales midfielder, but this is far from true. Aaron Ramsey was only on the pitch for the final 10 minutes of the game and has not yet played a full 90 minutes since arriving from Juventus on deadline day; it can be assumed that the ex-Arsenal man is still getting up to match fitness, as he had only started once for Juventus before the loan.

Rangers take on Dundee United away at Tannadice on the 20th of February. The reverse fixture takes place next Thursday at Ibrox, where Erling Haaland may be fit.

Written by Sam Houston

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