A critical goal from Steven Davis with the last kick of the ball tonight changed a potential difficult result into a more than decent one, but it doesn’t alter the reality check Rangers and some fans have received as a result of the overall performance and result, bar that last kick.
Yes, Rangers went into this one, their maiden voyage into the CL under the Steven Gerrard era, filled with a lot of optimism and belief Malmo were nothing to be bothered by.
Ibrox Noise has preached for months how this level is as high if not higher than the last 16 of the UEL, and that showed tonight as while our Swedish hosts were far from impressive, they were very canny, very much like Slavia Praha, and exploited the visiting team’s defensive naivety to get themselves in front on the night.
We can’t even suggest Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side have more CL experience than us recently because they last competed in it in 2015, and this Rangers side has only one player signed at that time.
The reality was Rangers were actually not bad in the first half, but exposed quite cruelly in the second, and that ruthlessness from the home side took advantage of Rangers’ vulnerabilities at the back, particularly that of James Tavernier and Connor Goldson, to get two quickfire goals at a crucial time.
It knocked all the wind out of Steven Gerrard’s men, and they struggled for most of the second half to lift themselves.
At this level, you have to be smart, and sharp – Rangers were neither of these tonight, and it’s a massive learning curve to take into next week.
The tie is far from dead, Davo saw to that, and we will have some players back for the return leg (we hope), but a lesson has been learned in just what it takes to win in the CL.
We aren’t going to make excuses about the ref – that’s for others to do. It wasn’t his best night but he didn’t concede the poor goals for us.
Hopefully good work is done in 7 days and the Ibrox Noise roars us to victory next week.