Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Rangers (agg 2-4): Kent strike and McGregor heroics take Gers through

By Sports Desk March 17, 2022

Rangers rode their luck to clinch a place in the Europa League quarter-finals after a 2-1 defeat in Serbia secured a 4-2 aggregate victory over Red Star Belgrade.

Hosts Red Star were emphatically on top after 10 minutes of the second half, leading through Mirko Ivanic's early strike and repeatedly threatening the Rangers goal.

Yet Ryan Kent took advantage of an injury to nearest man Cristiano Piccini to charge into space before sending a deflected strike into the back of the net, taking sting out of the contest.

Allan McGregor made a remarkable string of saves for the Scottish visitors, who reached the last eight of a European competition for the first time since losing to Zenit in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup final. A stoppage-time penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star the win on the night, but they had nothing to celebrate.

The hosts made a bright start and were ahead inside 10 minutes. From a short corner on the right, Rangers carelessly allowed a cross from Guelor Kanga to bounce, and Ivanic controlled with his chest before ramming past McGregor from eight yards.

It was almost 2-0 moments later as McGregor saved well from Ivanic, and the Scottish giants were jolted. Red Star went route one and carved out another glorious chance, but Milan Pavkov trickled a shot wide after Ohi Omoijuanfo got the better of two defenders in the air.

Piccini's fizzing left-footed drive just before half-time forced McGregor to pull off the spectacular to keep Red Star's lead down to one goal.

Early in the second half, McGregor had to stretch as Kanga's corner from the left almost bounced in. The hosts kept coming and Omoijuanfo hit a speculative volley that struck Connor Goldson and, fortunately for Rangers, deflected straight at McGregor.

The Rangers equaliser came against the run of play and was a choker for the hosts, Kent playing a one-two with Glen Kamara and bursting from his own half. The winger dashed away from a limping Piccini before hitting a shot that deflected off Aleksandar Dragovic and looped over goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

McGregor made a double save from Kanga and Ben, then kept out a header from Milan Gajic, before he was beaten from the spot at the death. It was some night for McGregor, and some night for Rangers.

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