Rangers Football Club defeated Servette 3-2 on aggregate on a hot and humid night in Geneva, securing a Champions League playoff match against PSV Eindhoven. A key header from captain James Tavernier clinched a 1-1 second-leg tie, showcasing Michael Beale’s team’s resilience under pressure.
A Challenging First Half
The Rangers got off to a shaky start, unable to test Servette’s keeper and falling behind to Dereck Kutesa’s sublime finish in the top corner. In the early stages of the game, the Scottish Premiership runners-up looked to be in for a difficult night. The home crowd was buoyant after Servette took the lead, and Rangers’ expensive summer signing from PSV, Danilo, missed a golden opportunity to level the score before the half. Manager Michael Beale reflected on the challenging first half, stating: “We made a really slow start, we needed to dig in. At half-time we had to have some strong words as it wasn’t what we were looking for.”
Rangers’ Resilient Response
The strategy of the Rangers changed dramatically in the second half. They regained control of the game after James Tavernier, Rangers’ European talisman, firmly headed home from close range following a pinpoint cross from Borna Barisic. This equaliser shifted the tide in the Rangers’ favour, restoring their aggregate advantage and calming the team’s anxieties. “It was an excellent goal we scored,” Beale said, adding, “and we could’ve extended our lead after that.” The team had a wonderful mentality. “I was pleased with how the second half went.”
Following this, Rangers began to effectively control the game. Beale’s reshaped side restricted Servette’s attacking threats and looked much more solid in midfield, where new addition José Cifuentes impressed and Nicolas Raskin continued to thrive. Under late pressure from Servette, the defenders held firm, displaying a robust and tactically disciplined performance.
A Daunting Task Ahead: PSV Eindhoven
Despite the resilience and eventual triumph of Rangers, there were clear indicators that the team has significant room for improvement, especially in terms of converting chances into goals. Substitute Cyriel Dessers squandered two great chances, underscoring the need for Rangers to improve their finishing and attack synergy ahead of their forthcoming challenges. Beale admitted that facing PSV Eindhoven will be a tougher test. The Dutch will pose a big threat after convincingly defeating Sturm Graz 7-2 on aggregate.
Rangers’ attention now shifts to local and European fixtures as they prepare for a second successive campaign in the Champions League group stages. Rangers will begin their League Cup campaign at home against Greenock Morton, a time for Beale to examine his squad depth and maybe rest key players for the important European evenings that lie ahead.