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Sparta Prague vs Rangers. UEFA Europa League Group A.

Generali ArenaAttendance10,879.

Sparta Prague 1

  • D Hancko (29th minute)

Rangers 0

  • G Kamara (sent off 74th minute)

Sparta Prague 1-0 Rangers: Glen Kamara sent off in Europa League defeat

Match report as Glen Kamara is dismissed as Rangers lose 1-0 at Sparta Prague in the Europa League; David Hancko's first-half header proves to be the difference between the two sides; Rangers stay bottom of Group A and now face Brondby in back-to-back games

Action from Sparta vs Rangers in the Europa League
Image: Sparta celebrate their winner against Rangers in the Europa League

Rangers' Europa League hopes suffered a blow as they lost 1-0 at Sparta Prague, with the visitors' chances not helped by Glen Kamara's second-half sending-off.

David Hancko's 29th-minute looping header ultimately proved the difference between the two teams in a tightly fought contest at the Generali Arena.

However, just as Steven Gerrard's side were threatening to draw level in the Czech capital, Kamara - who had been booed whenever he touched the ball - picked up a second yellow card after an innocuous challenge with 16 minutes to go, leaving Rangers with a mountain to climb.

As a result, Rangers stay bottom of Group A after a second straight loss, making their upcoming back-to-back matches with Brondby must-win fixtures.

Kamara booed by crowd before being sent off as Rangers lose at Sparta

Kamara was routinely booed in a stadium full of schoolchildren and then sent off as Rangers fell to defeat.

Kamara was clearly targeted by some of the 10,000 fans six months after being subjected to abuse by Slavia defender Ondrej Kudela, which earned the Czech Republic defender a 10-game UEFA ban.

The Generali Arena was originally meant to be shut for this game following a separate racist charge against Sparta after Monaco's Aurelius Tchouameni was subjected to abuse last season.

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UEFA instead agreed to a proposal for the game to go ahead in front of mainly schoolchildren with some accompanying adults, but booing was audible any time Kamara touched the ball.

Team news

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard made five changes to the side that won 1-0 at Dundee on Saturday, with Allan McGregor, Borna Barisic, Juninho Bacuna - on debut - Steven Davis and Fashion Jr all staring.

Meanwhile, Jon McLaughlin, Connor Goldson, John Lundstram, Ianis Hagi and Alfredo Morelos dropped to the bench.

The biggest cheers of the night outside the one which greeted Hancko's first-half headed goal came after Kamara received both of his yellow cards for fouls on Michal Sacek.

The Finland midfielder, who served a three-game ban following an alleged assault on Kudela in the Ibrox tunnel, was booked just before half-time for a tackle. He was harshly penalised in the 74th minute when Turkish referee Ali Palabiyik ruled his arm had been raised dangerously in an aerial challenge.

Rangers were already struggling to get back into the game and the 10 men could not avert a second defeat out of two Group A matches.

Gerrard's side had an early warning when Allan McGregor pulled off an excellent one-handed stop from Jakub Pesek.

The visitors had a decent spell with Fashion Sakala's pace and skill causing Sparta problems. Joe Aribo saw a header cleared from the goalmouth and Leon Balogun headed wide from 10 yards.

McGregor again came to his side's rescue when he saved from Martin Minchev after James Tavernier's wayward pass put Rangers on the back foot.

Europa League Group A
Image: Europa League Group A

Hancko netted in the 29th minute after getting ahead of marker Calvin Bassey, who was playing in central defence in the absence of Connor Goldson. The defender glanced a brilliant header in off the far post with goal-line technology alerting the referee to the goal after McGregor had scooped the ball away from behind the line.

Rangers suffered another blow when Juninho Bacuna went off injured in the 38th minute, although they had Ianis Hagi to come on.

The visiting defence was in disarray in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, letting their opponents in behind three times. McGregor pulled off one save and had a let-off when Pesek hit the bar from an open goal.

Sakala had the ball in the net in between home chances but he was clearly offside as he pounced on the rebound from Balogun's saved header.

Glen Kamara takes a knee in front of Sparta Prague players
Image: Glen Kamara takes a knee in front of Sparta Prague players

Rangers struggled to create clear opportunities and Kamara's red card further reduced their chances. They had some late pressure but Sakala strayed offside again from their most promising opening.

Rangers' winless Euro run continues - Opta stats

  • Rangers are without a win in four straight UEFA Europa League games (D1 L3), after winning six and drawing two of the eight before that.
  • Sparta Prague have kept consecutive clean sheets in European competition for the first time since a run of three in November 2016.
  • Rangers have failed to score in three consecutive games in European competition (incl. qualifiers) for the first time since July 2011 (also a run of three).
  • Rangers have picked up three red cards across their last three UEFA Europa League games, all against Czech Republic sides (also 2 v Slavia Prague in March), with those three sendings-off as many as the Scottish side suffered in their previous 40 games in the competition.
  • Sparta Prague defender Dávid Hancko's two UEFA Europa League goals have come against Scottish opposition; v Celtic in November 2020 and v Rangers tonight.

What the manager said...

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard (when asked about the jeers Kamara faced): "During the game I haven't been aware. I have obviously been focused on the game and the tactical changes that I was trying to think about to try and get us back in the game as we were trailing.

"If they are facts and that is the truth, then I am extremely disappointed, but not surprised.

"We need the facts, we need confirmation if that's the truth before I comment. If that was the case and they were targeting Glen, it's extremely disappointing because the reason there's a lot of kids in the stadium in the first place is because of previous similar incidents.

"There needs to be more done. Not just myself, everyone across the world is asking for more and bigger and better and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated.

"But until the powers that be do more and treat it more seriously, until that happens, we're going to be dealing with these questions for a longer time.

"I am disappointed with the scoreline and with how we've started the group, losing the first two games is not ideal.

Kamara was shown a red card during Rangers' defeat in Prague
Image: Kamara was shown a red card during Rangers' defeat in Prague

"The next game is a must-win now, we have to win at home to Brondby to give ourselves an outside chance.

"In terms of the performance, I thought Sparta just edged it in terms of chances, but I was really pleased with the boys, especially when we went down to ten men, I thought we threw caution to the wind and tries our best to rescue a point, but it was not meant to be.

"And unfortunately we have lost the boxes tonight - they've had one chance from a set play and took it, which we will need to look at, and we've had two very similar chances and unfortunately we have not taken our chances.

"I thought for large parts of the game, we passed the ball really well, we played with control - I still think we can be better around the box in terms of variety and trying to open a team up.

"Our 'keeper has been busier than theirs, we have to admit that, but when we went to ten men and took more risks and played with more endeavour and desire, I thought we created more and still looked like we could rescue a point right to the death. We had some good set-piece opportunities at the end, but unfortunately we just could not get that all-important goal to rescue a point.

"In terms of the Europa League, we now need a reaction going into the Brondby game and we need to take maximum points to give ourselves an outside chance. But right now, we need to prepare and get ourselves ready for a top-of-the-table clash with Hibs and it is one we are looking forward to."

Kamara's lawyer says Sparta should be 'embarrassed' by abuse

Kamara's lawyer Aamer Anwar claimed Sparta Prague should be 'embarrassed' by the treatment dished out to the Rangers midfielder in a stadium filled with schoolchildren.

Anwar said in a statement: "I had hoped when I heard of the stadium closure of Sparta Prague that both Glen and other black players wouldn't have to put up with any abuse or racism and could just get on with playing football.

"But this evening should be an embarrassment for the Czech side that, despite their fans being banned, it still made little difference that the stadium was filled with 10,000 schoolchildren.

"A huge proportion of those children booed Glen's every touch of the ball along with every other black player for Rangers. Tonight shows yet again that Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual UEFA is nowhere to be seen.

"Glen and the Rangers players have shown total class, but no player should have to face this at their work and on the European stage."

What's next?

Rangers take on Hibernian at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, kick-off at 3pm.

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