Football Features

“Players like him don’t come around often” – Winners and Losers as Rangers make Europa League statement against Porto

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 22:21, 7 November 2019

Glasgow is at it again. 

After a sensational victory for the Celtic side of the city in Rome, Rangers had a lot to live up to in their huge game against Portuguese giants Porto.

But, as always seems to be the case recently, Rangers weren’t about to let Neil Lennon’s side hog the headlines.

A cagey first hour was forgotten in an instant after Alfredo Morelos (who else?) sent Ibrox into raptures before club treasure Steven Davis doubled the lead soon after.

Gerrard’s side held on fairly comfortably against a lacklustre Porto to leave themselves one win from qualification.

Here are the winners and losers from another memorable European night in Scotland.

Winner: Alfredo Morelos

Is there anything this man can’t do at the moment?

Once again, the Colombian superstar showed up on the big stage for his side. Having largely fed off scraps due to Porto’s evident gameplan to nullify him, Morelos took his first chance expertly and totally changed the dynamic of a game which seemed to be heading nowhere. A few minutes later, he added an assist.

Morelos had been quoted recently as saying that he was keen on a “tougher league” in the near future. Rangers will be praying that this isn’t true. The opener on Thursday was his 15th goal (21st if you include Europa League qualifying) of a remarkable start to the season. Yet he offers so much more than just goals: work rate, link-up play and a magical mean streak that even Diego Costa would be proud of.

Players like Morelos do not come around very often. It is essential that Rangers keep him.

Loser: Jesus Corona

In Porto’s fairly negative system which they deployed at the Ibrox, a lot of creative responsibility rested on Corona’s shoulders. He failed to deliver.

Porto managed just one shot on target all game. He lost the ball 26 times (more than any other Porto player) and failed to register a shot all game. Mohamed Elyounoussi played an identical role to Corona for Celtic a few hours earlier and made the Mexican look like a Sunday League player in comparison. A host of crosses throughout the 90 minutes did little to mask what was an extremely underwhelming display.

To make matters worse, Corona’s job was to nullify the effect of Steven Davis in central midfield – who scored Rangers’ second goal.

An away trip to Glasgow is never easy, but one would have hoped Corona could offer more than he did.

Loser: Sergio Conceicao

The Europa League is somewhat unfamiliar territory for Porto, but a disappointing qualifying defeat to Krasnodar meant that the Portuguese giants were forced to compete in Europe’s second rate competition this time around.

However, you would never guess that Porto have Champions League, and even title, aspirations. One point from their last three games is not good enough and zero points on the road in Europe is a record which you will not get away with.

Conceicao will know that the Porto hierarchy will accept nothing less than the best and, if they fail to qualify from the group, he could find himself under immense pressure. They’re far from out of it, but another defeat is a huge red flag.

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Winner: Ryan Jack

On one of the most important nights of his life, Ryan Jack delivered.

To put it simply: he was everywhere. No Rangers player managed more interceptions than Jack and only Steven Davis regained possession more times than he did. He also completed three key passes and provided a smart assist for Alfredo Morelos’ opening goal.

It was an all-action display that his manager would have been proud of in his heyday. Speaking of his manager…

Winner: Steven Gerrard

Did anyone think that Gerrard’s first foray into management would be this successful?

Whilst Frank Lampard has been making the headlines south of the border, the Liverpool legend looks to be building something extremely special at Rangers. It was another excellent display in a victory which represents a massive statement to those competing in Group G.

Porto are normally a Champions League side, but Rangers couldn’t care less. Perhaps inspired by their rivals Celtic’s heroics in Rome, Rangers made sure that the streets of Glasgow will certainly be lively tonight.

In a group that many viewed as one of the toughest, Gerrard’s men are shooting their shot.

 

 

 

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