Rangers were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday night after suffering a 1-0 defeat against Rapid Vienna away from home.
Supporters had mixed feelings following their anti-climatic end to the group stage: on the one hand Rangers had, for the most part, done themselves proud in a testing group, but on the other, it felt like a missed opportunity.
Football can be a cruel game at times; an entire 90 minutes often boils down to one key moment. Well, that’s exactly the kind of narrative BBC Scotland pundit Alasdair Lamont has peddled in his analysis of how Rangers’ Europa League campaign panned out.
‘It was a dearth of creativity that haunted them on Thursday. In Moscow, it was poor defending and an assistant’s flag that denied them a fourth, potentially winning, goal. And at Ibrox, there was the late Eros Grezda chance to beat Spartak but instead was scooped over the bar.’
Indeed, mistakes by players and referees are often the determining factors in deciding football matches. In Rangers’ case, an incorrect offside call and a squandered opportunity were the pivotal moments on which their chances of qualifying for the last-32 were determined.
Plenty of footballing purists would argue that, when all is said and done, things have a way of evening out. Ultimately, you get what you deserve and Rangers’ elimination is simply tangible evidence to suggest they weren’t good enough to qualify from the group.
Perhaps they are right and perhaps it is those moments of intense pressure which distinguish the good from the great sides. Grezda, of course, is not the only player to miss a good opportunity during the group stage, but it was the timing of the moment which makes his chance particularly memorable and rueful in the minds of Rangers supporters.
As Lamont has alluded to, two key moments could have changed the narrative, but that does not suggest that Rangers got less than they deserved.
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