Rangers 2-0 Brondby: Steven Gerrard's men ease to victory at Ibrox

Last update on. From the section Europa League
Rangers won their first victory in Group A with Leon Balogun's header

Rangers resurrected their Europa League knockout hope with a win over Brondby at Ibrox.

Rangers' first points in Group A were scored by Leon Balogun's powerful header and a Kemar roofe tap-in, both from an Alfredo Morelos header.

Morelos, seeking his 100th Rangers goal hit the post, and Scott Arfield, a substitute, struck the crossbar. The hosts were denied any further goals to consolidate their superiority.

Steven Gerrard's team is now one point behind the Czechs after Lyon's win at Sparta Prague.

The next trip to Denmark will be no worry for the Scottish champions, after Brondby's indifferent opposition in Glasgow.

Gerrard pre-match criticized Morelos's scoring record this season, five goals in fifteen games. He said it was below what he expected from his strikers.

Rangers and the forward had the opportunity to reconnect with their cutting edge when Brondby, the Danish champions, visited. They are currently in sixth place in the domestic league.

Thomas Mikkelsen had already been tested by the Colombian with a 20-yard goal when he left the goalkeeper helpless with an effort that was whipped just before half-time. The upright denied the claim.

Midway through the second period Mikkelsen denied Morelos once more, with the 25 year-old glumly trudging off to be replaced moments later by Fashion Sakala.

Balogun, the centre-back, had led the Rangers' way with his first goal. James Tavernier, under the bombardment of missiles from Brondby fans, swung into an inch-perfect corner. Balogun outmuscled Morten Frendrup to power a header past Mikkelsen.

Brondby should have been level when Andrija Pavilovic cut a near-post effort wide and their profligacy soon was punished.

Joe Aribo's goal was perfect for Morelos. However, Mikkelsen was hit directly by Morelos's striker, who was parried by Roofe. After a VAR inspection, Fran Jovic, Croatia referee, awarded the goal.

Rangers were home dry after a half hour of play and a cushion of two goals. Brondby was only threatened by Rangers' lapses. Borna Barisic’s terrible backpass sent Mikael Uhre clear. The striker was able to fire wide with only Allan McGregor to his advantage.

Sigurd Rosted stopped Aribo's darting run and gave him a penalty.

Balogun, the goalscorer, was forced to leave after appearing to strain a hamstring.

Rangers should have increased their lead in the final stages, but Arfield swept against the bar from Scott Wright's cutback and Sakala was denied by Mikkelsen.

Joe Aribo is the Man of The Match

Rangers' attacking style featured a striking feature in the midfielder: his driving runs.

What have we learned?

Rangers may not be firing on all cylinders yet, but it was a professional performance that was crucial in their bid to reach the knockout stage for the third consecutive season.

Roofe continues to struggle for form, but Roofe has been proving to be a reliable goal scorer, scoring eight goals in his 14 matches so far this season.

The other danger for Rangers was complacency. They gave Brondby some chances that better sides could have benefited from.

What were they saying?

Steven Gerrard, Rangers manager, told BT Sport that the players fulfilled the gameplan they had set out. It's possible to pick out the highlights, but the overall game was controlled and won by us. It's very close to the 90-minute performance that we have been waiting for.

"We've kick-started our Europa League campaign. In a few weeks, we'll be able to repeat this performance. It's going be interesting if we succeed. We have a chance. It'll be a great job if we can get this group out."

What's next?

Rangers, the Scottish Premiership leader, are back in league action Sunday with a quick trip to face St Mirren (12:00 BST).

The stats are clear

Rangers won eight of nine matches against Danish teams in all European competitions (D1), beating at least one of five Danish sides.

Rangers entered this match having suffered three consecutive Europa League losses and had lost four of their previous matches in the competition. They scored two more goals than they had in any of their four previous matches in the competition (1).

Brondby remains the only side that has not scored a goal this season in the Europa League campaign. Despite having made 16 attempts, however.

Leon Balogun's opening goal was his first ever for Rangers, and his first in any club competition after scoring for Brighton against Crystal Palace back in December 2018.

Twelve of 13 goals Keemar Roofe scored for Rangers in 2021 were scored at Ibrox (the rest at St Johnstone, September).

James Tavernier has been providing 48 assists in all competitions since Steven Gerrard took over Rangers in July 2018. This is at least 20 more than any other player who played for the club in this time.