Aris Limassol 2-1 Rangers: Dismal Rangers slump to defeat away in Cyprus

5 October 2023 0 By Total Football News
First Aris goalAlex Moucketou-Moussounda's bullet header opened the scoring for Aris

Steven Davis' stint as caretaker manager got off to the worst possible start as a lacklustre Rangers side slumped to Europa League defeat away to Aris Limassol.

Alex Moucketou-Moussounda headed home inside nine minutes before Shavy Babicka's first-time strike doubled the Cypriot side's lead in the second half.

Abdallah Sima pulled one back for Rangers, but Aris - who are currently fifth in their domestic league - stood firm to compound Rangers' miserable start to the season.

The Ibrox side now sit third in Group C, with all four sides on three points from two games after Real Betis beat Sparta Prague 2-1.

There is often an upturn in performances after a managerial departure, but Rangers were wretched in Cyprus.

They picked up where they left off in the 3-1 defeat to Aberdeen and Aris took full advantage of Rangers' uninspired start.

Moucketou-Moussounda ghosted into the box and powered a header beyond Jack Butland to give the hosts the lead, and minutes later they could and should have doubled their advantage.

Leo Bengtsson, having set up the goal, found himself completely unmarked in the middle of the Rangers box, but fired high and wide with the goal at his mercy.

There was no sign of a response from Rangers and Aris went into the break having hardly broken sweat.

The game continued in the same vein after the break with Rangers blunt in attack and shaky in defence, and Aris doubled their lead with an excellent goal.

John Lundstram was left for dead by the impressive Bengtsson, who picked out Babicka in the middle. The Gabon international swept home to deepen Rangers' woe and highlight the depths to which the Ibrox side have sunk.

Sima did head beyond Vana to halve the deficit, but in truth, Aris still looked the more likely to find the back of the net and only a wonderful Butland save kept Rangers in the contest.

There was a late spell of pressure from Davis' side, but they lacked the composure and quality needed to snatch a point.

Player of the match - Leo Bengtsson (Aris)

Leo Bengtsson tussles for possessionHe set up both Aris goals, and was a real threat throughout. His ability to keep calm and make the pass to Shavy Babicka was impressive.

Defensive frailties a huge concern - analysis

Jane Lewis, BBC Sport Scotland in Limassol

Rangers' start to this match surprised many. Most were expecting a positive reaction after the appointment of their interim management team but it wasn't the Premiership side who were quick out the traps, it was Aris.

Within minutes they were causing the Rangers defence all sorts of problems. And the visitors couldn't handle it at all.

The defensive frailties will be a huge source of concern to the Ibrox coaching staff. They just didn't cope with balls into the box at all, and put unnecessary pressure on themselves.

They were at times outplayed by Aris, and up front their big summer signings didn't deliver.

Abdallah Sima was a rare bright spark in what was a poor all round Rangers performance. He got his team back into the match with a great header, and he deserved it with the pace and energy he brought to the game. Goalkeeper Jack Butland also gets pass marks.

It's unclear what Rangers will take from this defeat, they did perform better in spells in the second half, but it wasn't enough.


What they said

Rangers caretaker manager Steven Davis: "It was a really difficult night because we felt there was a real opportunity to come here and build on the Betis game.

"I think we caused a lot of our own problems. Obviously the two goals we give away we're really disappointed with and when that happens it gives you a mountain to climb.

"I've got to take some responsibility. The first half we kept trying to play in the middle of the pitch which wasn't really on, they counter-attacked from that and they were good in transitions with the pace they had up front.

"We didn't do enough to take something from the game but in terms of the effort of the players, I thought they kept going to the end and I couldn't have asked any more of them in that respect.

"The energy to keep going, everyone was trying to do the right things. There wasn't a lack of effort but it's a really difficult moment that everyone's in and when that happens maybe you start to make the wrong decisions.

"It's a really quick turnaround and it's important that we stick together."

It's back to league business for Rangers this Sunday with an away trip to in-form St Mirren (12:00 BST) Their next Europa League group match is away to Sparta Prague on 21 October (17:45).

Second Half ends, Aris Limassol 2, Rangers 1.

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