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Braga vs Rangers. Europa League Round of 32.

Estadio AXAAttendance18,113.

Braga 0

    Rangers 1

    • R Kent (61st minute)

    2-4

    Braga 0-1 Rangers (Agg: 2-4): Ryan Kent fires visitors to Europa League last 16

    Rangers ended their 12-year wait for an away European win to reach the Europa League last 16

    Thursday 27 February 2020 11:52, UK

    Ryan Kent's goal gave Rangers a 4-2 aggregate lead over Braga
    Image: Ryan Kent's goal gave Rangers a 4-2 aggregate lead over Braga

    Rangers booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League after a fine 1-0 win against Braga in Portugal, completing a 4-2 victory on aggregate.

    The Scottish Premiership club had not won any of their previous 15 European away games, but Ryan Kent's second-half strike (61) ensured they ended that wait in style in northern Portugal.

    Rangers arrived at the Estádio Municipal de Braga protecting a slender 3-2 advantage from the first leg, and they were denied the lead on the night in first-half stoppage time when Matheus Magalhaes saved Ianis Hagi's penalty.

    But Hagi atoned from his miss to set up Kent for a composed finish having breached Braga's high line as Rangers booked their place in Friday's draw for the last 16.

    Ryan Kent celebrates putting Rangers further ahead in the tie
    Image: Kent celebrates putting Rangers further ahead in the tie

    Player ratings

    Braga: Matheus Magalhaes (8), Bruno Viana (6), Carmo (4), Raul Silva (5), Ricardo Esgaio (6), Trincao (6), Fransergio (6), Joao Palhinha (5), Nuno Sequeira (7), Ricardo Horta (5), Paulinho (6).

    Subs: Ruiz (5), Joao Novais (6), Galeno (5).

    Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (7), Goldson (9), Edmundson (8), Barisic (7), Arfield (7), Davis (8), Jack (7), Hagi (7), Kamberi (7), Kent (8).

    Subs: Ojo (6), Aribo (6).

    Man of the match: Connor Goldson.

    How Rangers rocked in a hard place

    Rangers arrived in Portugal aware of the size of their task. The 3-2 loss at Ibrox last Thursday was Braga's first European defeat this season after previously winning eight and drawing two of their Europa League matches this term.

    Indeed, no other side in the competition had scored more than their 17 goals, but in front of the 4,500 travelling supporters, George Edmundson and Connor Goldson produced virtuoso displays to keep the hosts at bay.

    Florian Kamberi takes a shot on goal during Braga vs Rangers
    Image: Florian Kamberi takes a shot on goal during Braga vs Rangers

    Within 10 minutes, Steven Gerrard's side had carved the Braga defence open as Scott Arfield beat the high offside trap before setting up Florian Kamberi to his left but his shot was easily saved by Matheus.

    More on this story

    Nuno Sequeira was proving Braga's most dangerous outlet through his deliveries at set-pieces and in open play, with Paulinho meeting one such wicked cross only to head wide of Allan McGregor's post before Kent dragged a shot wide on the break following good work by Hagi.

    Team news

    Fresh from scoring during Braga's 3-1 win over Setubal at the weekend, Ricardo Horta took the place of Abel Ruiz up front for the hosts.

    Nuno Sequeira was forced off in that game at the weekend but he shook off an injury to retain his place while David Carmo started in defence in place of Wallace Santos, who was forced off after just 12 minutes at Ibrox.

    Rangers were boosted by the return to fitness of Borna Barisic after he was forced off in the first leg. That meant Joe Aribo took his place on the bench. Niko Katic lost his place as George Edmundson started while Florian Kamberi replaced Alfredo Morelos up front.

    Paulinho was then denied by McGregor following another pinpoint cross from Sequeira, but Rangers were offered a brilliant chance to extend their lead on aggregate when Raul Silva handled inside the box from Kent's corner.

    Hagi, who was the hero with his two goals in the first leg, stepped up confidently but saw his spot-kick well saved by Matheus to hand the hosts a boost just before the interval.

    The setback did not affect Rangers, however, as Kent missed the first good chance following the restart from Kamberi's cutback, but five minutes later the former Liverpool winger made no mistake.

    Ianis Hagi saw his penalty saved in first-half stoppage time in Braga
    Image: Ianis Hagi saw his penalty saved in first-half stoppage time in Braga
    Matheus Magalhaes keeps out Hagi's effort from 12 yards
    Image: Matheus Magalhaes keeps out Hagi's effort from 12 yards

    Goldson anticipated the pass into the feet of Paulinho to regain possession before Ryan Jack and Hagi combined for the latter to play a brilliant pass seeking Kent, who sped away from the Braga defence to dispatch his low shot to the left of Matheus and into the far corner.

    Braga looked shell-shocked as assistant manager Manuel Sequeira withdrew two defenders in search of a route back into the tie, and one of the substitutes, Joao Novais, very nearly halved the deficit when his header from Trincao's cross brushed the foot of the post.

    But that was the closest Braga came to a response, and Rangers were denied a second when Connor Goldson's header was tipped onto the post, before Scott Arfield tapped home from an offside position.

    When Novais headed over from another Trincao cross in stoppage time, the celebrations for Rangers and their supporters began, safe in the knowledge they had booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League for the first time in nine years.

    What the manager said

    Steven Gerrard bellows instructions to his players on the touchline
    Image: Steven Gerrard bellows instructions to his players on the touchline

    Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: "The partnership of the two centre backs tonight was faultless. George was thrown in at the deep end but there's one way to get European experience. At some point a manager has got to trust you to go in, whatever the challenge is.

    "He stepped up and he fancied it and he delivered with the help of Connor, who played like a captain, like a leader.

    "He is someone who has had some stick since the weekend, along with the rest of us, so to bounce back and post that type of performance was great.

    "We played against high-class opposition, a very dangerous opponent, who are in probably the best form they've been in for some time. The players have been outstanding to a man over both games. I'm really proud of them for getting the job done."

    'Unbelievable achievement for Rangers and Scottish football'

    Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates a fine victory in Portugal on Wednesday
    Image: Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates a fine victory in Portugal on Wednesday

    Analysis from Sky Sports' Kris Boyd

    "The Rangers back four were absolutely outstanding. You'd have expected Braga to have got one or two chances, but there was nothing that you would say troubled Allan McGregor too much.

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    "Braga have won nine of their last 11 now, with both those defeats coming against Rangers. They've beaten Sporting twice and also Benfica in that run, so this is an unbelievable achievement for Rangers and for Scottish football.

    "It's going to help the coefficient with potentially two teams back in the Champions League in two years' time."

    Man of the match - Connor Goldson

    Connor Goldson was a defensive rock for Rangers in Portugal
    Image: Connor Goldson was a defensive rock for Rangers in Portugal

    Gerrard dropped a surprise an hour before kick-off as he benched Nikola Katic following his Perth horror show against St Johnstone.

    Edmundson took his place but there was no repeat of Sunday's sloppiness as he and Goldson stood firmer than the massive rock looming over one end of the pitch.

    Braga began with Paulinho as the focal point of their attacks, and later they would introduce Joao Novais and Abel Ruiz, but whatever they threw at the Rangers defence, Goldson had the answers. Rangers refused to budge.

    What's next?

    Rangers return to domestic action at the weekend, visiting Hearts in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals on Saturday; kick-off is at 5.30pm.

    The draw for the last 16 of the Europa League takes place on Friday, February 28 in Nyon, with proceedings set to start at 12pm, UK time. You can follow it on Sky Sports News and with our live blog on the Sky Sports website and app.

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