Rangers 2-0 Porto: Alfredo Morelos makes one and scores another in superb win
Rangers can qualify for Europa League knock-out stages with win at Feyenoord next time out
By Charles Paterson
Last Updated: 08/11/19 9:30am
Alfredo Morelos scored one and made another as Rangers took a big step towards Europa League progression with a 2-0 home win over Porto on Thursday night.
After a cagey first half which the Portuguese visitors had the better of, Morelos' clinical finish on 69 minutes put Rangers in front, before he set up Steven Davis for a second shortly afterwards.
Steven Gerrard's side never looked troubled after that, and the result completed a memorable night for Scottish football, coming two hours after Celtic beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome.
Rangers travel to Rotterdam to face Feyenoord in three weeks' time, knowing a win will confirm their place in the last 32 alongside the Scottish champions - and they host group leaders Young Boys on Matchday 6.
How Rangers upset the odds
This Group G match had always seemed pivotal to Rangers' chances of guaranteeing European football after Christmas.
Confidence was high after a promising draw in Portugal two weeks previously, where Gerrard felt his team had weathered the best Porto could throw at them.
Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (7), Helander (6), Goldson (7), Barisic (6), Jack (7), Davis (7), Kamara (7), Barker (5), Kent (7), Morelos (8).
Subs: Arfield (7), Aribo (n/a), Defoe (n/a).
Porto: Marchesin (7), Mbemba (5), Pepe (6), Marcano (6), Alex Telles (5), Atavio (7), Danilo (6), Matheus Uribe (5), Manafa (4), Corona (5), Soares (5).
Subs: Diaz (6), Ze Luiz (6), Silva (5).
Man of the match: Alfredo Morelos
The omens certainly promised much. Rangers were averaging three goals a game at Ibrox this season, and no Portuguese team had ever won here in European competition, but Porto started confidently. Glen Kamara had to clear a flick by Pepe off the goal line with McGregor beaten inside four minutes.
Rangers struggled to handle Porto's high press in the first half as passes went astray, with Borna Barisic and Filip Helander both looking nervous. Morelos and Ryan Kent, dropping deep as they attempted to find space, had little to feed on; Kent's wild shot over the bar was Rangers' only attempt on goal in the first half hour.
Allan McGregor made a magnificent save from Ivan Marcano's header on 34 minutes, though the defender was flagged offside, as Porto continued to press.
It had become a battle of the midfield playmakers, as the visitors' game-plan running through captain Danilo Pereira, sitting in front of the back four, while Rangers looked for Davis to thread through-balls in behind the full-backs. It was his pass that played in James Tavernier just before half-time, but Brandon Barker slashed the cutback well over.
Porto lost defensive stalwart Pepe shortly after the restart to a knee injury, with winger Luiz Diaz - a goal-scorer against Rangers in Portugal a fortnight ago - on in his place. His departure seemed to galvanise Rangers, who began to take control.
Kent had become more prominent - first, fizzing a shot across goal, and then forcing 'keeper Agustin Marchesin to save low at his near post. Porto still carried a threat on the break, and Connor Goldson had to be alert to hook away Wilson Manafa's goal-bound effort, but Rangers took the lead through a familiar source.
Brandon Barker replaced Sheyi Ojo in Rangers' only change from their win over Hearts on Sunday.
Porto recalled Alex Telles and Mateus Uribe for Bruno Costa and Luis Diaz from their 1-0 win over Aves.
Ryan Jack's cross from the right found Morelos in space on the edge of the penalty area, and the Colombian took just two touches with his left foot - one to control the ball, and the other to hammer a shot past Marchesin into the far corner. It was a goal of the highest quality from a striker at the top of his game.
Four minutes later, Morelos stretched the Porto defence into the corner before finding Davis, who extended Rangers' lead with a low 20-yard strike that took a wicked deflection off Marcano. Ibrox rocked in delight.
Substitute Ze Luis' header was the closest Porto came to threatening McGregor's goal as Rangers closed the game out comfortably. One more positive result in Group G, and they can look forward to European football after Christmas for the first time since 2011.
- Rangers have lost just one of their last 12 games in European competition, winning eight and drawing three.
- FC Porto are winless in their last eight Europa League away games (D2 L6), having won each of their previous six on the road before that.
- Rangers have registered seven clean sheets in their last eight home games in European competition, shipping just one goal in that period.
- Alfredo Morelos is the first player to score in three consecutive appearances in major European competition for Rangers since Nacho Novo in the 2006-07 UEFA Cup.
- Steven Davis netted his first goal in competitive club football since netting for Southampton against Everton in the Premier League in November 2017, 711 days ago.
Rangers visit Livingston on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football from 2.30pm; kick-off at 3pm. Porto will look to bounce back with a trip to sixth-placed Boavista on Sunday at 9pm.