A three-game record of 11 goals allowed and none scored is never good for a Rangers manager. Nonetheless, on an unusual night at Ibrox, Giovanni van Bronckhorst found solace in his team’s tenacity against Napoli when Rangers were reduced to ten men. Matteo Politano’s penalty and late goals by Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele sealed the victory, although only after Allan McGregor saved two penalty kicks from Piotr Zielinski. James Sands was dismissed for giving up the first penalty, and after stopping twice after a VAR ruling for encroachment, McGregor was unable to stop Politano. After Borna Barisic was penalised for handball, the Italian attacker hammered the ball low into the net beyond the reach of the 40-year-old Rangers goalie. With five minutes remaining, substitute Raspadori scored smartly to extinguish the home side’s resistance before Ndombele struck again in stoppage time against a fatigued Rangers Soccer defence.
Napoli now leads Group A with full points following two games, while Rangers remain pointless ahead of back-to-back matches with Liverpool. Those games will be yet another stern test for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, but regardless of the scoreline, their effort will give more optimism than their previous 4-0 losses at the hands of Ajax and Celtic. Until they were ten men, this recalled the Rangers of last season’s Europa League. They fought with tremendous enthusiasm from the outset, after a highly emotional Ibrox paid respect to Queen Elizabeth before kickoff. Alfredo Morelos, making his first appearance since March, headed over after only 35 seconds as Rangers chased Napoli deep up the field. Scott Arfield produced a fantastic stop from Alex Meret before the break, while Connor Goldson came close with a header immediately after the break.
While Rangers did lose without scoring against the Serie A leaders at Ibrox, just the second defeat in their first two Champions League group games, it was a far improved performance from the hosts. Rangers were unlucky not to go leading at halftime, and although having to play the whole of the second half with ten men, they still produced ten shots, six more than they did versus Ajax in their first group-stage encounter. All they have to do now is score in their next group game, which takes place on October 4 at Anfield.
The Queen‘s death unavoidably had a more significant impact at Ibrox than at many other football stadiums around the UK. The culture and identity of the Rangers are strongly related to Britishness and, by extension, the royal family. As the teams emerged, a massive tifo show paid honour to the Queen.