Road goals may not have the emphasis they once held in European competitions but scoring four last week in Dortmund certainly set Rangers up for success.
The Full Scottish with Brian P. Dunleavy –
Yes, Thursday night’s home leg at Ibrox ended in a 2-2 draw, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side may have looked a bit disorganized in their own half. However, with a 4-2 lead in the tie heading into the match, they didn’t need a masterpiece.
(Conversely, Celtic did in Norway, and we saw how that turned out.)
They still had Ibrox rocking, with a stronger second half performance, and that, along with the final score on aggregate, will likely be all most will remember.
Rangers may have to address recent shortcomings on the domestic front. Dropped points on Sunday at Tannadice allowed Celtic to move three points clear at the top of the table, despite their own struggles at home against Dundee.
Still, a successful European campaign, even at the Europa League level, could be enough of a shiny object to keep even those obsessed with their cross-city rivals distracted. With the remaining field, Rangers have an excellent chance to reach the quarterfinals. Sevilla, Betis, Atalanta and Leipzig could pose trouble, but the others, what with Barcelona being a shadow of their former selves, are beatable. Perhaps even the semis.
Frankly, the only thing standing in Rangers’ way of advancing to that stage is Rangers themselves. If Celtic’s lead holds, or widens, pressure on the Ibrox side will mount, and that could affect their form in other competitions.
Does van Bronckhorst have the man-management acumen to counteract that? He was successful during his stint at Feyenoord but, with respect to the Dutch side, Rotterdam isn’t Glasgow.
After stopping Celtic from “winning the 10” last term, ’Gers already have a feather in their collective caps, outdoing their rivals significantly on the European front.
Further advancement will only burnish the shine.