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Aribo, Bassey, Balogun Make History With Glasgow Rangers As They Reach Europa League Final


Three Super Eagles players will feature in this season’s UEFA Europa League final following Glasgow Rangers 3-1 win against RB Leipzig at Ibrox Stadium on Thursday night.

In the 150th anniversary year of the club, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players continue to write one of the most extraordinary chapters Rangers’ storied history has ever known with Nigeria internationals fully involved in the plot.

Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey started the the game but Aribo was off injured towards the end of the first half.

Aribo had been leading the charge superbly for Rangers and it was a setback when his night was cut short just before half-time when he was pole-axed when blocking a fierce Angelino free-kick flush on his face.

First half goals from James Tavernier and Glen Kamara wiped out Leipzig’s 1-0 first leg advantage before Christopher Nkunku’s brilliant second half riposte threatened to take the tie into extra time.

But John Lundstram, again a colossus in a Rangers display in which there were no failures, popped up with the 81st minute goal which sparked delirious scenes.

Tavernier had put Rangers ahead in the 18th minute when he poked home form close range after Ryan Kent’s cross into the box.

And for the second goal, it was another well worked goal, this time down the right flank where Wright and Aribo combined smartly to stretch the Leipzig defence. When the ball was laid back to Kamara just outside the box, the midfielder showed superb composure to guide a low shot beyond Gulacsi’s right hand into the corner of the net.

It should have got even better for Rangers in the 29th minute when, with Leipzig clearly rattled, Tavernier’s back post knockdown presented Aribo with an apparently simple chance. But he sliced his shot and the ball was scrambled to safety by the visitors.

Leipzig gradually seized greater control of possession, ramping up the tension among the home fans. Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun, introduced along with Scott Arfield just before the hour mark, had to make a superb tackle to snuff out the first sign of a real threat from Nkunku who had been subdued until that point.

Allan McGregor had to make his first save of the night in the 70th minute, getting down sharply to his left to keep out a Konrad Laimer shot, but the veteran goalkeeper was beaten all ends up a minute later.

It was a fabulous strike from Nkunku, his 11th European goal of the season, as he met Angelino’s cross from the left with a dipping first time volley.

Extra-time beckoned but Rangers would not be denied. With nine minutes left, Tavernier’s free-kick was knocked back across goal by Kent and with the Leipzig defence in disarray, Lundstram slid the ball home from close range to fire Gers to the final.

Rangers will now face Bundesliga opposition again in the Europa League final in Seville on May 18.

Simply getting there is a momentous achievement but van Bronckhorst’s men will be fuelled by justified belief they can complete the journey by beating Eintracht Frankfurt to lift the trophy.

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