The Light Blues were dogged and relentless in Leipzig, but all their hard work was undone by a late goal
Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey were involved as Rangers fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal clash.
With a place in the final of Europe’s second-tier competition at stake, Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst went for caution over beautiful football.
Setting up his side to contain and counter, the former Arsenal man kept veteran Nigerian defender Leon Balogun on the bench. And van Bronckhorst started Super Eagles star Calvin Bassey at the heart of the Gers’ defence.
The last time Rangers were in Germany, they celebrated a 4-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal-Iduna-Park, en route to securing a 6-4 aggregate win over the Bundesliga giants. Aribo claimed an assist in that encounter.
The Gers then defeated Red Star Belgrade and Sporting Braga to set up this semifinal showdown with Red Bull Leipzig.
But RBL proved a much more complicated customer than Dortmund, bossing most of the possession and creating better scoring chances.
But young Bassey was crucial to helping the visitors keep a clean sheet for the best part of the ninety.
At the same time, Aribo put his body and brain to use first on the wings, then as a centre-forward, and later as a winger following the introduction of Fashion Sakala.
But when it seemed that the Scottish champions were good value for the draw, Leipzig’s Angelino produced a stunning winner five minutes from time.
Rangers need to win by a two-goal margin when the second leg is played at the Ibrox Stadium next week to make it to the final of the competition.