Wednesday 20 March 2019

Tavernier spot on for Rangers in Ibrox win

Rangers 3 Maribor 1

STRIKE: James Tavernier Photo: PA
STRIKE: James Tavernier Photo: PA

Skipper James Tavernier underlined his importance to Rangers as his penalty edged Steven Gerrard's men towards a 3-1 victory over Maribor at Ibrox.

Gerrard staved off interest in the right-back from West Brom ahead of their Europa League showdown with the Slovenians.

And it was the captain who took on the responsibility of firing the Light Blues back in front after their sluggish first-half display had threaten to hand the visitors the first-leg momentum.

Alfredo Morelos was back in the side following his Pittodrie dismissal but and was again at the thick of the drama, first putting Rangers ahead, then wasting a golden opportunity by getting himself caught offside before eventually winning the spot-kick that nudged the hosts back in front.

Lassana Coulibaly's late header put daylight between the teams but Mitja Viler's strike for Maribor means there is still work to be done in next Thursday's return fixture.

It was the Colombian Morelos who gave Rangers the dream start with the opener inside five minutes.

Daniel Candeias and Scott Arfield's pressing pinned the Slovenians into the far corner as Marko Suler was stripped of possession. Arfield quickly fed the ball to Ryan Kent and while the Liverpool youngster's side-footed effort was stopped by Jasmin Handanovic, the Maribor keeper could do nothing as Morelos jumped on the rebound.

Rangers were punished in devastating fashion as Derisevic fired a perfect cross-field pass from deep to Viler, who lashed first-time past Allan McGregor.

Morelos made swift amends on 49 minutes. Twisting one way then another, he lured Ivkovic into a trip that had Israeli referee Roi Reinshereiber pointing straight to the spot.

Tavernier stroked home from 12 yards to restore Rangers' lead before forcing Handanovic into a brilliant fingertip save as he fired towards the top corner from 20 yards out. Coulibaly then ensured Rangers will take a two-goal lead to the Stadion Ljudski next week as he nodded home from Murphy's cross with five minutes left.

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