November 26, (THEWILL) – Rangers beat Sparta Prague 2-0 to advance to the Europa League knockout stages with centre forward Alfredo Morelos scoring both goals.
Rangers got off to a good start in Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s first game in the Rangers’ dugout, with Super Eagles star Joe Aribo hitting the crossbar after a good run by Ryan Kent.
In the 15th minute, they seized the lead, with Ianis Hagi stretching to assist James Tavernier’s pass to Morelos, who easily swept the ball home.
Eight minutes later, Hagi was involved again, but Aribo was unable to hold the ball down from his exquisite cross. At the opposite end, Allan McGregor was called into action with quick reflexes to deny Martin Minchev from close range.
Four minutes into the second half, Morelos doubled his and Rangers’ tally, and it was an amazing gift. Filip Panak made the foolish decision to send the ball over his own penalty area, which Colombian intercepted and headed into an empty net.
Sparta had won six of their previous seven European games against Scottish opponents, and they were hoping to keep their European ambitions alive. But, they hardly troubled Rangers, who consigned them to a ninth defeat in 11 away Europa League games, despite forcing McGregor into a fantastic double save late on.
With a better head-to-head record than their opponents, the hosts finished second in Group A, three points ahead of Sparta, and advanced to the knockout rounds at their opponents’ expense.