Rangers recorded the worst campaign in Champions League history as they lost 3-1 to Ajax in their last group game.
Rangers needed a five-goal swing to beat Ajax to third place and the Europa League while knowing a two-goal defeat would leave them at their worst in Europe.
Goals by Steven Pergois, Muhammed Kudus and Francisco Conceicao made six consecutive defeats for the Ibrox men, as James Tavernier’s penalty didn’t prevent them from scoring a goal difference of 20 under zero.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are the first Scottish side to lose all group matches in the European major tournament, while Ajax finished third to secure a place in the Europa League knockout stages.
How the Rangers ended their dismal campaign with an unwanted record
Forming a squad was itself a challenge for Van Bronckhorst, who stopped midfielder John Lundstram and injured nine players – including defenders Ben Davies and Redvan Yilmaz from the win over Aberdeen at the weekend.
Two substitutes were left-back Borna Parisic and veteran midfielders Steve Davis and Scott Arfield.
It was ex-Jerse defender Calvin Basie in a strong Ajax side who shot first and foremost to dampen early optimism at home.
In the fourth minute, to finish a smooth attack down the left flank, Kudus sent Berguis to defeat Jersey goalkeeper Alan McGregor from the edge of the penalty area.
It looked already ominous for Rangers – McGregor had to pull back to snatch a Bergwis ball from under the bar – but the under-powered hosts eventually coped themselves and went in search of an equaliser.
The worst campaign in the history of the Champions League
- Rangers are the first Scottish team to pass through the group without a point.
- Dinamo Zagreb had previously set the worst unwanted record by 19 goals for the 2011-12 season – a figure that Viktoria Plzen met this season but lost to the Scottish Premier League side.
In the 13th minute, Vashon Scala’s head-covered Bassi went off the line after good work by winger Ryan Kent to get a cross from the left flank.
However, another lapse in focus has allowed Ajax to extend their lead, this time Owen Wijendal is the provider for Kudus – whose shot deflected away from teenage defender Leon King to beat McGregor.
The goalkeeper pulled off a superb save from Steven Bergwijn minutes later, and the first boos from the stands came shortly afterwards when Kudus fired a shot wide of the goal.
Silent boos greeted the end of the first half but there was an attempt by the fans to overpower their team at the start of the second half, although a return was highly unlikely.
Kudus put the ball in the net in the 55th minute after a sweeping move, but Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg disallowed it for offside after a VAR check.
Just before the clock ticked, Glenn Camara, Alfredo Morelos and Scott Wright joined in in place of Davis, Antonio Colak and Tillman’s owner, but Ajax, buoyed by big and raucous travel support, remained in control.
A brilliant shot from Arfield in the 70th minute passed over the crossbar by Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasfer, who suffers from a lack of efficiency, but the corner was defended.
In the 84th minute, Morelos took advantage of Pasfer’s error, but failed to make the difference.
Moments later, Rangers’ replacement, Rabbi Matondo, in place of Kent, was brought down by Edson Alvarez inside the penalty area, and Tavernier fired in from the penalty spot.
However, Conceicao, who had been on the field for a minute, hit from close range and referee Nyberg quickly blew his whistle to signal the end of a history-record season for all the wrong reasons for Glasgow FC.
What the manager said
Giovanni van Bronckhorst wants his players to learn from a tough campaign:
“You know the gap is there but you don’t want to concede too many goals against you.
“If you see the goals we have conceded in so many games this season, especially at home against Liverpool, we suffered in those moments and it is a great learning experience for us.”
Rangers have three more Scottish Premier League matches ahead of the World Cup. They fly to St. Johnston on Sundays, live on Sky Sports; Match starts at 12 noon. He then faces Rangers Hearts on Wednesday, November 9th. Kick-off 7.45pm.
Their last game before the tournament will be on Saturday 12 November when they travel to Saint Mirren, live on Sky Sports. The match starts at 12:30 pm.
Ajax also has three more Eredivisie matches before the World Cup, where they face PSV Eindhoven, Vitesse Arnhem and Emmen.