Rangers 0-0 Villarreal: Steven Gerrard’s 10-men dig in for point at Ibrox after Daniel Candeias sees red in first-half stoppage time
- Rangers held on for a vital point down to 10 men at home against Villarreal
- The game was altered on the brink of half-time as Rangers went down to 10 men
- Daniel Candeias was shown a second yellow for trampling on Santiago Caseres
Craig Hope for the Daily Mail
Steven Gerrard would have taken this back in July at the onset of the Europa League — a win away at Rapid Vienna next month and Rangers will be playing continental football in 2019.
They have not made it easy for themselves in getting this far — they played the second half with 10 men after Daniel Candeias was sent off — but there is a resilience about this side which epitomises the steeliness of Gerrard the manager.
This was their 13th game in this competition and, given that a win at Hearts on Sunday will put Rangers top of the SPL, it has been a fine debut season to date for the rookie boss.
Rangers held on for a 0-0 draw with Villarreal after Daniel Candieas was shown a red card
On the stroke of half-time, the Rangers attacker pleaded his innocence after a second booking
Eventually he was escorted off down the tunnel and Rangers had work to do to get a result
MATCH FACTS FROM IBROX
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Flanagan, Coulibaly (McCrorie 90), Jack, Arfield, Candeias, Morelos (Lafferty 79), Middleton.
Subs not used: Foderingham, Ejaria, Halliday, Grezda, McAuley.
Booked: Candeias, Flanagan
Sent off: Candeias
Villarreal: Fernandez, Gaspar, Alvaro, Funes Mori, Jaume, Caseres, Morlanes, Trigueros (Cazorla 62), Fornals (Chukwueze 74), Toko Ekambi, Bacca (Moreno 62).
Subs not used: Sergio Asenjo, Sansone, Pedraza, Bonera.
Booked: Gaspar, Alvaro
Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia)
‘I said before the game I felt we needed four points from the last two games. It’s going to the wire and we’ve set up a fantastic game. I can’t wait for it for the players,’ said Gerrard.
‘It was a heroic night for us. Daniel Candeias has got a lot of friends in that dressing room.
‘Every one of them rolled their sleeves up and dug in against top, top players. To not lose against a team like this over two games, I’m very proud in the circumstances.
‘I would definitely have taken this scenario and it will be enormous strides if we manage to pull it off and get into the last 32.’
Steven Gerrard showed how well drilled his side were as they successfully earned a point
Even with a man less, Rangers, urged on by the crowd, pushed to find themselves a goal
Ex-AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca was closely monitored as he was fouled in the early stages
Alfredo Morelos led the line ahead of Kyle Lafferty and looked to keep Villarreal’s defence busy
Twice, however, Gerrard’s side were forced to rely on last-ditch saves from Allan McGregor when forward Karl Toko Ekambi skipped clear on goal.
‘Our goalkeeper was world class, again — all I can say is wow!’ added Gerrard. ‘His form has been incredible since day one. He has rescued us here with two big saves.
‘We probably didn’t deserve to win the game, but it would have been cruel if we hadn’t taken a point. Defensively I thought we were excellent.’
Rangers’ best chance was defender Connor Goldson’s 10-yard swipe which looped over the crossbar, but their performance had been more about graft than craft.
Villarreal’s Karl Toko Ekambi was unorthodox but continued to cause plenty of problems up top
Rangers keeper Allan McGregor produced a Man-of-the-Match display to keep a clean sheet
Candeias was dismissed on the stroke of half-time when he accidentally trampled on Santiago Caseres, who had already been fouled by Alfredo Morelos.
But referee Matej Jug deemed Candeias worthy of a second yellow and the whistles howled in the direction of the Slovenian official at the interval were justified.
And so the hosts were forced to rely upon their doggedness to see out the point which means a win in Vienna will guarantee progression, and that hardly seemed possible when qualifying began in the midst of summer
The fans inside Ibrox looked to create an intimidating atmosphere for their La Liga visitors
Gerrard was left baffled at a number of decisions as he urged his side on to nick a late victory