It might not have been much to brag about but Rangers ’ 1-0 first leg defeat in Portugal has left their Europa League hopes wide open.
Braga frontman Abel Ruiz’s first half strike is all that separates the sides heading into the all-or-nothing return at Ibrox.
But it seems the 90 minutes in the picturesque setting of the A Pedreira stadium was not to everyone’s liking with a number of questions remaining unanswered.
Like who can replace talisman Alfredo Morelos? Why did Aaron Ramsey not feature? And should Gio van Bronckhorst stick or twist on Thursday with the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic just three days later?
First the positives. Gary Stevenson, Newtonhill, said: “Another great night of European football with Rangers mixing it with Europe’s best. They are still in this and this run has shown what we need to do in the close season to further raise our proud standing. Morelos would have loved it against Braga and an alternative who can hold the ball up is needed. Roy Makaay will know this and together with Gio I’m sure that this is being prioritised. We are still in this and with a full Ibrox can advance to the semi finals.”
Eddie Easson, Ballingry, said: “A spirited performance from Rangers to keep the tie alive for next week. Then it becomes a game of stick, twist or bust. Do they stick and save themselves for Sunday or do they twist and go all out for a win on Thursday? They really have to. But then it maybe bust on Sunday knowing deep down a defeat to Celtic will hurt more than a defeat to Braga.”
But the calls soon took a turn. With Van Bronckhorst’s team selection coming under the microscope.
David MacMillan, Uddingston, said: “Every Rangers fan I’ve spoken to, online or on the street, cannot understand why Aaron Ramsey never started or at least came on when it was clear Glen Kamara and Scott Arfield had ran their race. Can we afford to leave a £40million-rated player kicking his heels on the bench?”
Frank McFerran, Carrickfergus, said: “It seems that Rangers are lacking in a bit of confidence. There’s something wrong and it’s hard to put one’s finger on it. But they better buck up their ideas or this season is a disaster.”
Ian Strang emailed: “Van Bronckhorst is kidding himself if he thinks we will cope without Morelos. We missed him at the turn of the year and we will definitely miss his goals now. I hope I’m wrong but the other strikers need to step up quickly.”
But Stephen Johnstone, Ardentinny, said: “Who needs Alfredo Morelos when you have VAR doing you a favour? In my mind Rangers would be facing an uphill battle in the second leg at Ibrox if the disallowed goal stood. VAR should stand for Varce and Braga were robbed of a two-goal advantage.”
Dropping into the Conference League and it seems Norwegian giantkillers Bodo/Glimt have a new fan club in Scotland after following up their defeat of Celtic by beating Roma for the second time in two seasons.
The 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s men proved last year was no fluke.
And Kenny Wilson, Moffat, said: “Seems like Bodo/Glimt are better than a lot of folk gave them credit for after beating Roma yet again. Meanwhile the mighty Rangers lost to a team that is fourth in the Portuguese league and sounds like a boaster from Liverpool. Their bottle is crashing yet again.”
And Robert McEwan, Mount Vernon, added: “That so-called pub team Bodo/Glimt defeat Roma again. I’d love to see them go and win the Conference League which is every bit as good as Europa League.”
Finally, and with attention quickly turning towards next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi finals, Michael O’Leary, Glasgow, said: “Caller Joe Smith described Celtic as one trick ponies. Well, look who’s galloping towards the title while the carthorses at Ibrox are still stuck in the stalls. Rangers can count themselves lucky that half of Celtic’s team were well below par. Roll on the semi-final.”
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