Glasgow Rangers of Scotland duo of Joe Aribo and Leon Aderemi Balogun both got stating spots but ended up with average marks in their team’s ouster from the UEFA Champions League qualifiers by FF Malmo of Sweden.
Megasportsarena.com reports that Balogun got five points out of ten, while Aribo garnered six, but their efforts could not save The Gers from defeat, even as their visitors saw their Nigerian-born youngster, Innocent Bonke sent off late in the first half.
Aribo, Balogun and their pals paid the price for another second-half capitulation as 10-man Malmo dashed their UCL qualification hopes and relegated the Scottish champions to the UEFA Europa League with a 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) win at Ibrox Stadium.
Rangers, trailing 2-1 from the first leg, looked well on course to progress into the play-offs when Alfredo Morelos’ header levelled the tie on 19 minutes and Bonke’s dismissal for two bookable offences on the stroke of half-time left the hosts with a man advantage.
However, Rangers could not make the best of it and, just as they did in last week’s first leg in Sweden, a sloppy start to the second half cost the Scots dearly, as two clinical finishes from striker Antonio Colak turned the game and the tie on its head in the space of four minutes.
Bonke, booked four minutes earlier, was shown a harsh second yellow for a high challenge on Connor Goldson, a decision which left manager Jon Dahl Tomasson incensed and handed the numerical advantage to Rangers.
Morelos, restored to the Rangers starting line-up after missing the first leg, set the tone for a relentless start from the hosts, harassing and harrying the Malmo defence and presenting Aribo with the game’s first opening inside three minutes, which was deflected behind for a corner.
Malmo’s remarkable turnaround left the near-capacity crowd, inside Ibrox for the first time since March 2020, and Steven Gerrard’s players, shell-shocked, and there was no way back as the Swedish champions sealed a play-off tie with Ludogorets.
Rangers, who have now lost three games in a row after Saturday’s league defeat to Dundee United, face another season of Europa League football but must overcome either FC Kairat Almaty or Alashkert FC in the play-offs to avoid dropping into the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Four minutes after restoring their first-leg advantage Malmo struck again, as Colak drifted effortlessly past the stationary Balogun, swiveled, and rifled his second past McGregor, which left Rangers needing to score two unanswered goals to salvage their UCL campaign.
Sadly, despite coming under intense pressure, Malmo stood firm, restricting the hosts to a solitary blocked Morelos shot before Rangers’ challenge finally ended amid a chorus of boos at Ibrox.
A match summary by Sky Sports’ writer, Kris Boyd submitted: “Rangers at half-time, with that man advantage, the goal, winning the game and level in the tie, you’d expect them to come out, but to be honest, Malmo have a lot of experienced players in their team and they needed it.
“Colak up front scored two fantastic goals, but the second one, there’s no excuse for it from Leon Balogun. It’s from a throw-in and he’s got to have someone in front, protecting him.
“As soon as it’s played into Colak, he turns and Joe Aribo tries to get back but it’s a fantastic turn and finish. Rangers didn’t create much in the second half. They look like a team that huffed and puffed for the majority.”