Rangers bounced back from their defeat to Kilmarnock with a Champions League victory but the job is far from done against Servette after a nervy night at Ibrox.

Michael Beale’s side made the perfect start as James Tavernier converted from the spot and Cyriel Dessers opened his account for the club. A Chris Bedia penalty changed the complexion of the tie.

Servette finished the match with ten men for the second qualifier in succession but showed the same grit they displayed against Genk to keep themselves in the competition.


It was job done in terms of winning the match. But Beale’s side still have it all to do in terms of winning the tie ahead of their trip to Geneva next Wednesday night as they seek to set up a likely meeting with PSV Eindhoven.

Rangers got just the start that they needed and wanted and were two goals to the good within a quarter of an hour. At that stage, it looked like being a comfortable night and tie for Beale’s side.

Tavernier dispatched his penalty straight down the middle as keeper Joel Mall went despairingly to his left. When Dessers converted from close range – after John Souttar moved through the lines and Borna Barisic crossed from the left – Rangers were in control at Ibrox.

But efforts from Nicolas Raskin and Danilo didn’t bring about the third goal before the break as Sam Lammers was wrongly flagged for offside and missed from close range. It became one of those occasions.

The Dutchman was denied by a terrific Mall save early in the second period and the keeper later thwarted Dessers after he connected with a Tavernier cross. With ten minutes remaining, Abdallah Sima became the latest one to pass up a decent chance.

Rangers were worthy victors on the night and the margin of their win should have been greater. The next 90 minutes will determine how costly, if at all, the scoreline proves to be.


Given the depth of the squad that Beale now has at his disposal, it was always likely that he would make a couple of alterations from the side that were so abject at the weekend.

Danilo was handed his first start as he replaced Sima, while John Lundstram and Kieran Dowell dropped out from the midfield. Ryan Jack and Todd Cantwell were the ones that came in.

The switches in terms of personnel were required. Yet it was the step up in attitude that was the most noticeable factor from the whistle as Rangers operated with a purpose that had been glaringly absent during their Premiership opener.

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Supporters will never be happy in defeat but showings that are meek and uninspired will provoke an extra degree of anger and the intensity of the side from the off was a marked improvement. Those levels were not maintained, though, and the reaction from the stands told their own story as Rangers became sluggish and sloppy in their forward forays.

Beale bemoaned the fluency of his side from middle to front at the weekend and Rangers remain very much a work in progress in that regard. The Englishman will hope that there is plenty more improvement to come as the match minutes and hours on the training ground give him an opportunity to get his side up to speed as quickly as possible.


The omission of Cantwell from the starting line-up at Rugby Park was one of the main talking points before a ball was kicked on Saturday. In the aftermath, it became even more pertinent as Beale’s selection and his tactics were questioned in a whirlwind of criticism.

It was no surprise, then, to see the midfielder handed a berth here. On a night when his manager needed him to have a real influence, Cantwell didn’t disappoint as he made his European bow.

His night started with a telling contribution as he showed an endeavour and an alertness to win the penalty by nipping in to force David Douline into a mistake. In the period that followed, Cantwell seemed to be everywhere in both attacking and defensive senses.

Cantwell’s versatility and his ability to play as part of the midfield or move up a line will be crucial for Rangers over the course of the campaign. His season is now properly up and running after a Man of the Match showing.


Rangers know all too well the pitfalls of playing matches of this importance at this stage of the season and the memories of the defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise should have acted as a warning. Despite the gap in resources and expectations, no side can be dismissed at this level.

The Swiss arrived in Glasgow this week without a handful of key players in their squad and with a grievance after Gael Ondoua was denied a visa and banned from making the trip. The absences of goalkeeper Jeremy Frick and Miroslav Stefanovic, the Bosnian midfielder, were worrying for boss Rene Weiler and left the visitors facing an even tougher test at Ibrox.

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Striker Bedia was one that Beale had highlighted beforehand and it was he who brought the Swiss back into the tie as he converted from 12 yards. Dessers had been penalised for handball after a VAR check and Bedia made no mistake as he beat Jack Butland with an emphatic finish.

A night to forget for Douline was capped when he picked up a second yellow card for booting Cantwell. And with that, Servette’s chances of a comeback were over.


Beale addressed the importance of the home crowd at his pre-match media conference on Tuesday afternoon and insisted the supporters were as strong as ‘anywhere in the world’. He believed he could count on them, even when the morale had taken a hit in the aftermath of events at the weekend.

A red, white and blue tifo display - with a ‘Glasgow Rangers’ banner as its centrepiece - filled the Broomloan as the teams took to the pitch.

The crowd could easily have had an adverse impact here. A bright start from Rangers immediately got the punters on side but there were moans and groans after the break when the game wasn’t put to bed in the manner that many rightly expected.

That became a theme of the closing stages. As the clock ticked on, Ibrox became increasingly nervous and Servette will be content with the position that they find themselves in 90 minutes in to the tie.

The Stade de Genève will be sold out when Beale’s side head to Switzerland next week. Time will tell what impact home advantage has second time around.