McCoist hails 'wonderful' McGregor as records fall to hero Rangers goalkeeper

By Sports Desk March 17, 2022

Allan McGregor stacked up the goalkeeping records as Rangers reached a European quarter-final for the first time since their run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

The 40-year-old made 11 saves to limit Red Star Belgrade to a 2-1 win in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, giving Rangers a 4-2 aggregate victory.

That was three more saves than any other goalkeeper had managed in a Europa League game this season – Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray made eight against Marseille – and the most by a Rangers goalkeeper since the competition was launched in 2009-10, replacing the UEFA Cup.

McGregor's saves total was the highest ever by a goalkeeper aged 40 or above in the Europa League, Opta said. Only Tim Howard, who made 12 saves for Everton against Wolfsburg in 2014, has ever made more stops in a game for a British club in the competition.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist said of McGregor: "He's been fantastic over these two games.

"Some of these saves he's produced, you'd think he's 20 years of age again. He's been wonderful. What a servant to the football club."

It was the first time since David de Gea made 10 stops for Manchester United against Roma on May 6 last year that any goalkeeper had reached double figures in saves in a Europa League match.

McGregor was making his 50th appearance in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, becoming the first Rangers player to reach that landmark with the club.

The last player to make more saves in a Europa League game was Karl-Johan Johnsson of FC Copenhagen in their 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United in August 2020.

McGregor, who missed out on appearing in the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy match through injury, earned praise from current Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"At moments he needs to be there, he is there. I'm really happy with his performances. Even at his age he's really important for us," Van Bronckhorst told BT Sport.

Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round and are beginning to cut a swathe through a strong field of clubs, just as they did on their UEFA Cup run 14 years ago.

Mirko Ivanic gave Red Star an early lead on Thursday and they pushed for more, but Ryan Kent's goal against the run of play in the 56th minute put the Scottish visitors back in control.

A late penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star victory on the night, but it was Rangers who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Van Bronckhorst added: "Our belief is only getting stronger. There are big teams left in the draw, so we have to wait and see tomorrow [when the draw takes place].

"The opponent will be stronger with each round. The result against Dortmund is one that the whole of Europe thinks is a great achievement. We're going to enjoy the night, and then prepare for Dundee on Sunday."

Related items

  • Mikel Arteta celebrates ‘great night’ as ruthless Arsenal demolish Blades Mikel Arteta celebrates ‘great night’ as ruthless Arsenal demolish Blades

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta described his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield United as “a great night” as they climbed to within two points of leaders Liverpool.

    The Gunners dominated from start to finish against a Blades team who looked well beaten after Martin Odegaard, Jayden Bogle’s own goal and Gabriel Martinelli had put them 3-0 behind inside 13 minutes.

    Kai Havertz and Declan Rice put the irrepressible Londoners 5-0 ahead at half-time and Ben White crashed home their sixth before the hour mark.

    Arteta, whose side’s seventh straight league victory saw them become the first English league side to win three consecutive away games by five or more goals, said: “It was a great night.

    “The way we started made a difference. We were really aggressive and positive and we showed real quality in the final third to take the game into a great position for us.

    “Then we maintained the rhythm, maintained the hunger and I love that about the team.”

    Arsenal struck their fifth goal in the 39th minute, the earliest an away side has had a five-goal margin in Premier League history.

    But Arteta warned his side they cannot afford to drop any points between now and the end of the season if they are to pip Liverpool and Manchester City to the title.

    “The fact that we’re scoring many goals and not conceding is a great sign, but it’s about winning every game now,” the Spaniard said.

    “That’s the demands these two teams have set over the past few years and that’s the task ahead of us.”

    Arteta confirmed Bukayo Saka was withdrawn at half-time due to illness, while Martinelli was replaced by Gabriel Jesus in the 64th minute after cutting his foot.

    “We need to wait and see how it is,” added Arteta on Martinelli’s setback, which was the only downside to the evening.

  • Girona lose further ground in LaLiga title race with narrow defeat at Mallorca Girona lose further ground in LaLiga title race with narrow defeat at Mallorca

    Girona lost further ground in the LaLiga title race as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca.

    Girona were looking to close the gap on league leaders Real Madrid – who drew 2-2 with Valencia on Saturday – but missed their chance to do so when Jose Copete smashed the home side in front just after the half-hour mark.

    Fewer chances fell in the second period but the visitors were kept at bay by a Mallorca side who threw bodies on the line for a result – chances for Portu and Savio went begging as the hosts held on to climb further away from the drop zone.

    The first chance of the match fell to Girona when Miguel Gutierrez’s cross found the head of Ivan Martinez inside the area but his header went straight to home goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

    Mallorca’s first meaningful attack came when Giovanni Gonzalez picked the ball up outside the area and fired from range but his shot kept rising above the crossbar.

    Mallorca were knocking on the door for an opener and got their reward on the half-hour mark after a corner fell to Copete inside the box and he slammed the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season.

    Girona were looking to respond instantly and had a chance three minutes later – Savio looked to equalise in spectacular style but saw his effort go high and wide from outside the box.

    Mallorca went into the break with a narrow one-goal lead and almost had a second four minutes after the interval but Antonio Raillo’s header from a Dani Rodriguez corner floated over the crossbar.

    Chances were few and far between in the second period and while Girona shared most of the possession, their opponents looked to catch a second on the counter attack, this time Abdon Prats’ drilled effort whistled just wide of the far post.

    Girona were beginning to look a lot more threatening and had a couple of openings when Portu’s goal-bound effort deflected over the crossbar before Savio saw one blocked behind in similar fashion, a couple of minutes later.

    The away side continued to probe in the final minutes as Yan Couto opened up a chance inside the box and fired towards goal but Rajkovic had to be alert to tip the ball over the woodwork to condemn Girona to a third defeat in four.

  • Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City

    Pep Guardiola praised fantastic Phil Foden and said the Manchester City midfielder is developing into a world-class player after his wonderful, derby-winning display against Manchester United.

    Nobody expected anything other than embarrassment at the Etihad Stadium for Erik ten Hag’s stumbling Red Devils, yet Marcus Rashford’s scorcher gave them a shock half-time lead.

    United were under the cosh for large periods before and after the break, finally buckling as 23-year-old Foden scored a superb leveller in the 56th minute before then firing City ahead 10 minutes from time.

    Erling Haaland added gloss in stoppage time but there was no doubt who the star of the show was in Sunday’s important 3-1 victory for Guardiola’s title-chasing team.

    “He is right now this season (one of the best players in the Premier League),” the City boss said of man-of-the-match Foden.

    “He’s been the best so far. I always had the feeling he would score goals, in training sessions, always I had the feeling but now he is winning games.

    “To become a world-class player at that age you have to win games and he always played good, always had an incredible work ethic. Doesn’t matter what position, he doesn’t complain.

    “He lives to play football but now he is winning games. He played a false nine at Bournemouth and was unbelievable. Today after he missed the first chance against (Andre) Onana he became a little bit anxious. That is for his age, he will learn on that.

    “But Rashford scored an unbelievable goal and Phil scored an unbelievable goal too.”

    Foden helped the treble winners get out of a hole on Sunday after City fell behind for the 12th time in the league this season.

    It was their first-ever Premier League comeback win against United and means they have recovered 21 points from losing positions this term.

    The result put them back within one point of leaders Liverpool ahead of next weekend’s mouth-watering battle between the sides at Anfield.

    “We have Copenhagen on our mind and we will have time after to talk about Liverpool,” Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

    “We have a lot of points still to play for and different places to go.”

    United bowed out of Europe before Christmas so there are no distractions before Saturday lunchtime’s return to Premier League action at home to embattled Everton.

    The injury-hit Red Devils have regressed during Ten Hag’s second season and sit an eye-watering 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who they face in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    Similarly concerning is the fact that sixth-placed United are 11 points off Aston Villa in fourth and six behind fifth-placed Tottenham, which could yet be enough for Champions League qualification.

    But Ten Hag does not believe United are that far behind City when not beset by injuries and felt key decisions hurt his battling side on Sunday.

    “On defining moments, we didn’t have it on our side because just before the 1-1, I think Rashford was on another break,” Ten Hag said.

    “And just before 2-1, there was (Alejandro) Garnacho in a breakthrough. I think we were really close to win or at least get a draw here.

    “I will not say it was a tackle (on Rashford) from Kyle Walker. They both run, but Rashy confirmed to me it was contact.

    “I saw it back, it was very soft, but you will understand when you are on a full-speed run, if you get a little touch then you are out of control and I think that is what happened.”

    Asked if this match highlighted a chasm between the teams, under-fire Ten Hag said: “No, I don’t think so. Absolutely not. We have many problems in injuries and, still, we had an opportunity because it was really small margins.

    “We could have scored a second goal in a debatable moment and in the second debatable moment, so you see it’s not that big. Especially when we have everyone on board we can be competitive.

    “I think also we showed, for instance, in the cup final against them when it’s really close but don’t forget City, in this moment, are the best team in the world.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.