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Gritty Gers make strong start to Euro campaign

Rangers 1 Feyenoord 0

Hit and miss: Rangers forward Sheyi Ojo celebrates his goal
Hit and miss: Rangers forward Sheyi Ojo celebrates his goal

By Ronnie Esplin

Sheyi Ojo produced a moment of magic as Rangers beat Feyenoord 1-0 in a pulsating Europa League Group G opener at Ibrox.

The death of Gers' former captain Fernando Ricksen on Wednesday at the age of 43 following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease made it an emotional night in Govan.

The Light Blues evoked the spirit of the Dutchman against the side from the Netherlands and after skipper James Tavernier had struck the outside of the post with a penalty, Ojo fired in a glorious drive from 20 yards in the 24th minute for what proved to be the winner.

"It was a difficult day for us yesterday," admitted goalscorer Ojo, who pointed his fingers to the sky in tribute to Ricksen.

"I said before the game, if I score I'm going to do (the celebration), so I'm glad I got to do that."

The Rotterdam side threatened in a more even second half and might have snatched a point although the home side had chances to score more.

"I thought we were excellent in the first half, we put them under a lot of pressure and forced them to make mistakes," said Gers captain Tavernier.

"They only had one shot in the first half so we were delighted going in at half-time. Obviously they got more possession in the second half but I thought we defended really well. We're delighted to get the clean sheet and the three points.

"It's been a bad couple of days and that's for Fernando."

Gers boss Steven Gerrard will probably believe the game should have been over by the interval, such was his side's superiority in the first 45 minutes.

He made four changes to his side with defenders Filip Helander and Borna Barisic and midfield duo Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack coming back into the side.

However, after a minute's silence before the game in tribute to Ricksen, it was the Dutch side who started better with efforts from Steven Berghuis and Orkun Kokcu but the game then turned.

In the ninth minute Feyenoord defender Edgar Ie conceded a penalty when he handled inside the box as the Dutch side failed to clear a Barasic corner.

Tavernier hit the outside of the post with his right-footed effort but Rangers refused to let that dishearten them and kept pressing.

In the 19th minute Scott Arfield took a pass from Aboubakar Kamara and struck the top of the post with a left-footed drive.

But Feyenoord could not keep the home side at bay and in the 24th minute, after Barisic had won the ball against Rick Karsdorp in a 50-50 tackle, Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, picked up the loose ball and drove a glorious left-footed shot from 20 yards past Kenneth Vermeer for a deserved winner.

Belfast Telegraph


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