Real Betis 2-3 Rangers: Philippe Clement’s side prevail in Europa League thriller

14 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Abdallah Sima goalAbdallah Sima’s early strike was the first in an astonishing contest in Seville

Resilient Rangers prevailed in an absorbing Europa League thriller with Real Betis to top the group and progress to the competition’s last 16.

The Scottish Premiership side thundered into the lead thanks to a belting finish from Abdallah Sima, before Juan Miranda’s arrowed strike almost immediately restored parity for the Spanish hosts.

After withstanding severe pressure in Seville, Cyriel Dessers came alive to restore the visitors’ lead, but another equaliser from Ayoze Perez capped an incredible first half.

With Sparta Prague strolling to victory against Aris Limassol, Philippe Clement knew his side needed a winner, which came with 12 minutes left as substitute Kemar Roofe forced the ball home to spark celebratory scenes.

The cauldron of the Estadio Benito Villamarin could easily have daunted a Rangers side that knew victory was a likely necessity, but the bold visitors cut through the noise in an instant to strike first.

Sima has shown ruthlessness like no other player in blue this season, and did so again by thumping the ball out of the path of a flailing Dessers to send the travelling support wild.

Their celebrations would be curtailed in stunning fashion, though, as Betis immediately reminded Rangers of their quality when Miranda’s lashed finished threatened to burst the side-netting.

Now, Rangers were rattled. Ben Davies had to block bravely before Jack Butland was called into action with two stunning saves – the second of which tipped Andres Guardado’s thunderbolt crashing onto the crossbar.

Just as it looked as if Clement’s side were becoming swamped, two of their struggling signings combined to push against the pressure.

Jose Cifuentes’ outrageous reverse pass found Dessers, who still had so much to do. The forward who has frustrated Rangers fans skipped past two Betis bodies and rolled the ball through the legs of Rui Silva.

The hosts would soon retort in style again. Isco, who has been rejuvenated to his gracious best, danced on the edge of the box before feeding Perez. One gorgeous sweep of a boot later and this game of madness was once again level.

The second half started with another whack of the woodwork as Assane Diao rose at a corner to bounce one off the bar.

Once the imposing stadium had been silenced when VAR prevented Betis from taking the lead for the first time, there was a sense that Rangers would have one more chance to save their status in the competition.

It was far from pretty, but Rabbi Matondo’s fresh air swing allowed the ball to roll towards Roofe, who was in the right place at right time to rubberstamp Rangers’ ticket to the last 16.

Player of the match – Dujon Sterling (Rangers)

Dujon SterlingThrust into the madness at the start of the second-half, Sterling looked like he belonged in the middle of the park with his composure and energy pushing Rangers over the line.

Rangers roar as Seville surroundings bring back best – analysis

It was in Seville that Rangers would fall just short in their inspired Europa League final run. And, in the 19 months that have followed, the Ibrox side have too often lacked the qualities that saw them shock the continent.

They may have been in a different stadium, but there was almost a symbolic banishing of the ghosts as the men in blue conjured the spirit of the side as they came out on top of a truly magnetic contest.

Their backs were against the wall on so many occasions, face-to-face with a top side in testing conditions. Amid the madness, Rangers roared.

So much has been made of the summer’s seemingly scattergun recruitment, but in perhaps their biggest game of the season, Dessers, Cifuentes, Sterling and others stood up to the task.

With a place in the last 16 secured in electrifying fashion, they must now carry momentum into not only the title race, but more pressingly, Sunday’s cup final.

If Clement’s men can show the kind of unity and quality they displayed on Spanish soil, it’s hard to see the first silverware of the season heading anywhere but Govan.

Table

Match stats

  • Rangers have won away against Spanish opposition for the first time in 14 attempts, with Betis the ninth different such side they’ve faced (D3 L10).
  • Betis slip into the Conference League play-off round, the first time the Spanish club have failed to qualify from the Europa League group stage.
  • They have lost their last five European matches against British opposition, their longest ever run of defeats against such opponents.
  • Rangers scored and conceded at least two goals in the first half of a European away game for the first time since November 2018 against Spartak Moscow (winning 3-2 at half time, lost the match 3-4) – with this the first time they have gone on to win such a match in major European competition.
  • Betis’ Juan Miranda second European goal was his first since scoring the winner against Celtic in September 2021 in the Europa League.
  • Sima scored his third Europa League goal of the season, having also scored against Betis on matchday one. He’s the first Rangers player to score home and away against one group-stage opponent since James Tavernier against Standard Liege in December 2020.

What’s next?

Rangers can now park continental concerns until March and focus on domestic competition, with Sunday’s Viaplay Cup final with Aberdeen (15:00) the first port of call.

Line-ups

Real Betis

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13Dantas da Silva
  • 2BellerínSubstituted forRuibalat 82′minutes
  • 6Pezzella
  • 21RocaBooked at 88mins
  • 3Miranda
  • 14William CarvalhoSubstituted forRosa da Silvaat 82′minutes
  • 18Guardado
  • 38DiaoSubstituted forEzzalzouliat 70′minutes
  • 22IscoBooked at 58mins
  • 10Pérez
  • 9IglesiasSubstituted forDa Silvaat 70′minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Ezzalzouli
  • 11Rosa da Silva
  • 12Da Silva
  • 17Sánchez Rodríguez
  • 20da Silva Santos
  • 24Ruibal
  • 30Barbosa Vieites
  • 40Fernández
  • 50García

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Butland
  • 2TavernierBooked at 82mins
  • 6Goldson
  • 26Davies
  • 31Barisic
  • 4LundstramBooked at 64mins
  • 15CifuentesSubstituted forSterlingat 45′minutes
  • 14Lammers
  • 19Sima
  • 9DessersSubstituted forRoofeat 65′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 45McCauslandSubstituted forMatondoat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Souttar
  • 17Matondo
  • 21Sterling
  • 25Roofe
  • 28McCrorie
  • 32Wright
  • 44Devine
  • 48Lyall
  • 93McKinnon
Referee:
Srdjan Jovanovic

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Real Betis 2, Rangers 3.

Second Half ends, Real Betis 2, Rangers 3.