Sheyi Ojo produced a moment of magic as Rangers beat Feyenoord 1-0 in a pulsating Europa League Group G opener at Ibrox.
The death of the Gers’ former captain Fernando Ricksen on Wednesday at the age of 43 following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease made it an emotional night in Govan.
The Light Blues evoked the spirit of the Dutchman against the side from the Netherlands and after skipper James Tavernier had struck the outside of the post with a penalty, Ojo fired in a glorious drive from 20 yards in the 24th minute for what proved to be the winner.
The Rotterdam side threatened in a more even second half and might have snatched a point although the home side had chances to score more.
Indeed, Gers boss Steven Gerrard will probably believe the game should have been over by the interval, such was his side’s superiority in the first-45 minutes.
He made four changes to his side with defenders Filip Helander and Borna Barisic and midfield duo Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack coming back into the side.
However, after a minute’s silence before the game in tribute to Ricksen, it was the Dutch side who started better with efforts from Steven Berghuis and Orkun Kokcu but the game then turned.
In the ninth minute Feyenoord defender Edgar Ie conceded a penalty when he handled inside the box as the Dutch side failed to clear a Barasic corner.
Tavernier hit the outside of the post with his right-footed effort but Rangers refused to let that dishearten them and kept pressing.
In the 19th minute midfielder Scott Arfield took a pass from Kamara and struck the top of the post with a left-footed drive and this time the ball flew across the goal.
However, Feyenoord could not keep the rampant home side at bay and in the 24th minute, after Barisic had won the ball against Rick Karsdorp in a 50-50 tackle, Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, picked up the loose ball and drove a glorious left-footed shot from 20 yards past Kenneth Vermeer for a deserved opener.
Feyenoord were rattled as Ibrox rocked.
Vermeer made a fine double save from Gers striker Alfredo Morelos who was then booked for a late challenge on the keeper, before Ojo’s attempt from 12 yards was deflected past for a corner which Connor Goldson headed over.
Feyenoord, on the ropes before the break, forced several corners at the start of the second half with Allan McGregor diving to beat away an effort from Berghuis.
In the 70th minute Arfield headed a Tavernier cross over the bar from eight yards and then Jack miscued after being brilliantly set up by Alfredo Morelos but the side from Rotterdam kept pressing for the leveller with McGregor called into action as he pushed away a strike from substitute Luciano Narsingh following a swift counter.
However, the home side held out for three hard-earned points and Ricksen, who battled his debilitating illness with bravery and dignity, would surely have approved of their performance.
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