First Touch

Rangers Rally in Europe

For all that divides them, Celtic and Rangers share one trait in common: A loss, regardless of the competition, amounts to a crisis.

Domestically, the Hoops felt that this week after a disappointing loss at Kilmarnock on Sunday. And, for all the feel-good of their first home win in the Champions League—against Feyenoord on Wednesday—in a decade, the match was still a dead rubber, given that they are out of Europe, after finishing last in their group.

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The Full Scottish

Across Glasgow, Rangers are riding high following a dramatic win in Sevilla over Real Betis on Thursday that propelled them to the top of their Europa League group and into the competition’s final 16.

’Gers may still sit behind their rivals in the Premiership table—although the gap is shrinking—but they are once again carrying the can for Scotland in Europe, just two years after reaching the Europa League final (coincidentally in Sevilla).

“I am really happy with evolution [the players] are making, mentally, physically, tactically,” new Ibrox manager Philippe Clement told the media after the victory in Spain. “This needs to be a reference for the rest of the season.”

And it very well could be, with the next Glasgow derby approaching on December 30th. A win in that match could put Rangers just two points behind Celtic, with a match in hand.

Notably, Kemar Roofe netted the winner against Betis 12 minutes from time. Roofe has struggled with injuries and consistency over the past couple of seasons. Could this get him going?

Rather indelicately, Clement lauded the courage of his squad: “I got what I asked from the boys. I wanted to see a team with b—-, a brave team, score goals and not only to defend against this top-class team. I gave them several challenges over the last couple of weeks and this was by far the biggest one.”

Of course, the Prem is a different animal, as we were just telling Giovanni van Bronckhorst the other day. But if ’Gers continue to turn in performances like the one in Sevilla Thursday, the league is within reach.

“I am really happy about the performance and the team mentality was really great,” Clement said. “If we do that all season then you will always have a good season.”

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