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Sporting Braga v Rangers Live Commentary, 07/04/2022

FT
1 - 0
BRA
RAN
Abel Ruiz (40)
Estádio Municipal de Braga

Commentary

That's all from us, and we hope you've enjoyed our coverage of a fascinating Europa League last-eight contest. We hope to see you again next time, goodbye!
This Europa League quarter-final tie remains in the balance after an intriguing first leg, with Braga taking the slenderest of leads to Ibrox next week. The Portuguese outfit produced some excellent football at times, and will carry a genuine threat once again in Glasgow, but Rangers will believe they are still in the tie after an improved second-half showing.
Full time in Portugal, and Braga hold on for a 1-0 first-leg win over Rangers! Ruiz's opener came during a dominant first half for the hosts, and their win is probably deserved, but Van Bronckhorst's team improved after making a raft of second-half substitutions, with Goldson missing two decent chances after the break.
90' + 3' FULL-TIME: BRAGA 1-0 RANGERS.
90' + 2' Bassey concedes a foul just in the Braga half, and the home side may have done enough to hold on for the victory...
90' + 1' CHANCE! The corner drops to Goldson in a crowded penalty area, but Braga manage to block as he tries to poke the ball home. The hosts scramble the ball clear in the aftermath, but Rangers regain possession on halfway…
90' Suprisingly, we're to have just three minutes of added time, as Tavernier wins a Rangers corner on the right...
89' Blocked! The Rangers set-peice eventually falls to Aribo, who sees a fearsome volley blocked at close range. The Scottish champions have been much improved since making their substitutions, and are still pushing for a leveller...
Paulo Oliveira
Yan Couto
Sporting Braga
89' Oliveira replaces the highly impressive Couto, as Braga look to cling on for a huge victory.
88' Aribo does brilliantly to win the ball near the corner flag for Rangers, and Carmo makes a late challenge on Tavernier as he looks to race towards the box. The defender is fortunate to escape a second booking for that foul, but Rangers have a free kick in a good position on the right wing…
87' Braga are sitting back in a rigid 5-4-1 shape when the visitors have the ball now. We're into the final three minutes of the 90 as Rangers continue to push...
86' Lundstrom plays a dreadful pass towards Tavernier after leading a promising Rangers break, and Matheus is able to claim the ball after a scramble on the edge of the area. Rangers have got to do better when they get the ball into the final third.
84' Arfield is called offside as he looks to latch onto a long ball over the top, with Rangers possessing just over five minutes plus added time to find a leveller.
Castro
Ali Musrati
Sporting Braga
82' Meanwhile, Al-Musrati's involvement is over as he walks gingerly from the field. Castro will replace him in the engine room.
Lucas Mineiro
André Horta
Sporting Braga
81' Braga use the stoppage in play to make a third substitution, replacing Andre Horta with Mineiro.
79' Al-Musrati looks to be suffering from cramp, going down after Fabiano concedes a throw-in with a terrible touch on halfway.
77' Andre Horta lines up a low strike from range, which McGregor palms away as it skids along the surface! Rangers deal with the set-piece well, and can regain possession in their own half.
76' Rangers look to have switched to a back three now, with Lundstrom slotting into a right-sided centre-back position. Braga try to make headway with a neat one-two from the Horta brothers, but Rangers repel the attack.
Miguel Falé
Iuri Medeiros
Sporting Braga
75' Meanwhile, Fale replaces the lively Medeiros as Carvalhal makes two changes to his team.
Vítor Oliveira
Abel Ruiz
Sporting Braga
75' Oliveira replaces Braga goalscorer Ruiz, in the home side's first substitution of the contest.
73' Rangers are left frustrated as Tavernier's excellent delivery seems to be deflected wide for a corner. The referee instead blows for a foul by Roofe, but this is much better from the visitors.
72' A promising Rangers break is halted in brilliant fashion by Gomes, before Arfield's right-wing cross is volleyed comfortably over the bar by Roofe, who was coming back onto the ball in an awkward position near the edge of the area.
70' Rangers create their best chance of the half! Tavernier wins a right-wing corner and picks out Goldson with a great delivery to the back post. Braga seemed to stop in anticipation of the referee awarding a foul, but Goldson headed comfortably wide when completely unmarked, and should have done better.
69' Rangers have attempted eight crosses so far in this game, with seven coming from captain Tavernier. Many of those deliveries have been extremely poor, and the visitors need to find more attacking quality if they're to find an equaliser.
68' Roofe concedes a throw-in on the Rangers right, claiming he was fouled by Carmo when chasing a ball in behind. There has definitely been a reaction from Rangers after their difficult start to the second half, can they create that all-important chance for a leveller?
67' Andre Horta and Ruiz are both involved in a flowing Braga move, which ends with Gomes finding the hands of McGregor with a tame effort after cutting in from the left wing.
65' Rangers are moving the ball with far more urgency since making those substitutions, as the Scottish champions probe for a way through this solid Braga defence.
64' Roofe and Aribo are immediately involved as the latter fires a low cross towards the striker. Roofe slips and handles the ball inside the Braga box, however, and is penalised.
K. Roofe
F. Sakala
Rangers
63' Roofe is the final substitute to enter the match at this juncture, replacing Sakala up front.
J. Ayodele-Aribo
R. Jack
Rangers
63' Aribo is the second man to enter the fray, replacing Jack as Van Bronckhurst looks to add energy to his midfield.
B. Barišić
L. Balogun
Rangers
62' Barisic replaces Balogun in the first of three Rangers changes.
60' Van Bronckhorst has clearly seen enough here, as Rangers appear to be readying three substitutes down on the sidelines. The visitors are still struggling to get out of their own half, having to endure wave after wave of Braga pressure.
59' Andre Horta has been magnificent for Braga in this match, dropping deep to orchestrate the play and hitting several raking through balls towards the energetic Couto.
57' Rangers win a deep free-kick on the left-hand side, and Arfield has a fierce volley blocked on the edge of the area after Tavernier's initial delivery is cleared.
56' Matheus brilliantly chips the ball past Arfield as the former Burnley man closes him down in the Braga box. Rangers need more of that intense pressing if they're to find a way back in this match.
54' Ruiz gets back to clear Tavernier's kick at the near post, and the second delivery from Arfield runs straight through to Matheus.
54' Sakala wins a corner for Rangers on the break, as the speedy forward looks to drag the visitors back into this contest.
53' A fine Braga move finds Couto in acres of space on the right wing, but the youngster is crowded out as he cuts inside in the box. He gets another chance after Bassey's clearance is intercepted, but the Rangers defence stands firm to clear his delivery.
52' Rangers have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 away games in European competition (including qualifiers), after registering four shut-outs in the five before that. Can Van Bronckhorst's men keep it tight in this second period, and keep the tie alive for the second leg?
51' Rangers are really struggling to find a way past Braga's high press, and are pinned back in their own half as the hosts knock the ball around with confidence after regaining possession.
49' Braga have been defeated only twice across their last 18 home matches in Europe, winning 11 and drawing five, although the first of those two losses came against Rangers in February 2020, when Kent scored the game's only goal. Will Braga maintain their fantastic home record, or can Rangers earn another win on this ground by producing a stunning turnaround?
48' Medeiros receives a short corner, but sees his left-footed cross miss everyone and go behind for a goal kick. It's been a fast start to the half from Braga, who aren't showing any signs of being happy to sit on their one-goal lead.
47' Couto gets in behind on the right-hand side, and sees his low delivery hammered away for an early corner to Braga.
47' No half-time changes for Rangers, but the likes of Ramsey, Aribo, and Roofe will surely be called upon soon if Van Bronckhorst's team don't improve in the early minutes of this half.
46' Braga get us back underway for the second half, looking to build on a strong first-half performance.
Rangers have created openings in this contest, with both Sakala and Kent guilty of lacking composure when bearing down on Matheus' goal. Van Bronckhorst's men have yet to manage a shot on target, however, and will need to show more creativity if they're to escape Portugal with a first-leg result.
Braga lead Rangers 1-0 at the break, and in truth, the hosts deserve their advantage after a dominant spell in which they hit the post and had a goal ruled out by VAR. Ruiz eventually netted the opener, slotting past McGregor after profiting from Balogun's error, and the Scottish champions have it all to do in the second period.
45' + 4' HALF-TIME: BRAGA 1-0 RANGERS.
45' + 3' Kamara is fouled by Gomes in midfield, as the Braga man overran the ball while stepping out of defence. Matheus claims Tavernier's deep free-kick, and that should be enough to keep Braga's lead intact at the break…
45' + 2' Rangers are knocking the ball around neatly in their own half as we approach the break, with Braga happy to defend their advantage after hitting the front during a dominant spell.
45' We're into four minutes of added time at the end of the opening half.
44' Gomes is back on the pitch as Lundstrom sees a tame long-range strike claimed by Matheus. Sakala was ruled offside in the build-up, however, coming back to tee the ball up for the former Sheffield United man.
43' Gomes is receiving treatment in front of the dugouts after a heavy challenge on the Braga left, as Braga soldier on with 10 men.
42' Ruiz's finish was placed wonderfully into the bottom-right corner, with the big forward finishing with his instep after pouncing on Balogun's poor peice of defending.
41' Ruiz has now scored in three consecutive European games for Braga, and it must be said that the hosts deserve their advantage after hitting the post and seeing another strike ruled out by VAR.
Abel Ruiz
Goal
Sporting Braga
40' GOOOAAALLL! BRAGA TAKE THE LEAD! Ruiz scores the opener, and there's no ruling that one out! Balogun is at fault for Rangers, getting a weak touch to Couto's flicked pass on the edge of the Rangers box, allowing Ruiz to fire past McGregor at his near post.
39' Medeiros' delivery is cleared well by the visitors, and Kamara then does well to stop Andre Horta's advance as Braga look to come again.
37' Braga take the free kick short to Andre Horta, whose cross is headed behind by Goldson for a home corner…
37' Al-Musrati was also receiving treatment after he was felled by Jack, but both men are now up and ready to continue.
R. Jack
Yellow Card
Rangers
36' Jack now becomes the first Rangers man to go into the book, fouling Al-Musrati on halfway. The Rangers man looks in some discomfort after making the challenge and needs some treatment.
35' Kent wins a foul on halfway, backing into the young defender Couto to invite the challenge as Rangers look to control the tempo of this match.
33' Decent opening for Sakala! Jack does brilliantly to find Sakala in space on the break, but the Rangers man blazes wildly over the bar when he had the beating of the Braga rearguard. A big chance goes begging for the Scottish champions...
31' Nothing comes from the corner, and a long ball over the top almost releases Kent in behind at the other end. Couto does brilliantly to take the ball away from the Rangers man, who could have looked to get his shot away earlier.
30' Braga win another corner, as Bassey is forced to end Medeiros' advance by clearing behind.
29' A combination of the post and VAR have saved Rangers from a first-half deficit in the last five minutes, but Braga keep coming, and see a right-wing corner cleared via another desperate scramble in the Rangers box.
27' NO GOAL! VAR comes to Rangers' rescue, with Fabiano adjudged to have fouled a Rangers defender during a scrappy phase of play which led directly directly to Horta's strike. The Braga man's challenge was wild, and the goal is rightly ruled out!
26' GOOOAAAALLL! ANDRE HORTA OPENS THE SCORING! 1-0 to Braga! Just seconds after Braga struck the post, Rangers fail to clear the ball on the edge of their area, and Andre Horta fires into the corner via a deflection! But wait, VAR are checking the goal…
24' RICARDO HORTA HITS THE POST! Braga create the best chance of the game so far, with Couto's fine delivery being knocked back across goal, where Horta fired towards the bottom-right corner from a great position. His strike beats McGregor, but cannons back off the post and flies to safety. Big let-off for Rangers.
22' Another poor Rangers corner evades everyone in a crowded penalty area, and gifts Braga a goal kick.
David Carmo
Yellow Card
Sporting Braga
22' Carmo became the first man to enter the book after that challenge, and will be walking a tightrope against a lively Rangers attack now.
21' Kamara does brilliantly to skip past Carmo, who wipes the Finland midfielder out on halfway. The referee plays advantage, and Sakala can win a left-wing corner for the visitors after a promising attack.
19' Tavernier delivers with his right foot, but Ricardo Horta is there to hammer the ball away. It's been a strong start to the game for Van Bronckhorst's team, but they need a little more composure in the final third.
18' Kamara wins a free-kick on the left wing for Rangers, turning Fabiano and being hauled down by the defender. This is a great opportunity for Rangers to deliver a strong set-piece…
17' Sakala does brilliantly to win a throw-in from Carmo on the Rangers right as the visitors looked to spring a counter. Sakala is looking to play on the veteran's shoulder thus far, and has looked lively for Rangers.
15' Lundstrom does brilliantly to win the ball high up the field, but Jack's left-wing cross is eventually headed clear by Carmo.
13' An awful delivery from Tavernier allows Braga to escape with a throw-in. The visitors can come again, however, as Al-Musrati makes a desperate clearance ahead of Sakala.
13' Sakala now gets his first chance to run at the Braga backline, and wins a corner after seeing a right-wing cross poked behind...
12' Ruiz's flick almost sets Medeiros in behind as the Braga winger makes a neat out-to-in run. Goldson and Balogun stood firm to repel the danger, however, and Rangers can build from a deep possession.
10' Arfield sees a right-wing cross blocked after Kent was able to glide through midfield and feed his team-mate with a cute ball in behind. Rangers are carrying a real counter-attacking threat early on.
9' Matheus was holding his hamstring but is back on his feet and looks okay to continue, at least for the time being.
8' Andre Orta and Ruiz look to work a neat one-two on the edge of the Rangers box, but Bassey stands firm to stop the attack in its tracks. At the other end, Matheus is down and receiving treatment, looking in some discomfort after his early 50-50 with Kent.
6' The corner comes to nothing, and Rangers are forced to clear a right-wing cross before Andre Orta shoots tamely at McGregor from range.
5' Chance for Rangers! The visitors create the first big opportunity of the game as Kent latches onto Arfield's chipped ball. The winger's touch is a tad heavy, and Braga can scramble it clear for a corner after Matheus smothers Kent's shot.
4' Rangers forward Morelos has been directly involved in 21 goals in 33 Europa League games (15 goals and six assists). Since his competition debut for Rangers in October 2018, only Bruno Fernandes (25) has been involved in more goals in the competition. The visitors will need to find another source of attacking inspiration here, can they cope without the injured attacker?
3' Medeiros is challenged well by Balogun in the Rangers area after Braga worked a neat attack down the right-hand side.
2' Kent misplaces his pass after escaping down the left-wing as Rangers look for a bright start. Braga look to be operating in a 3-4-3 shape at the start of this match, with Couto stretching the play as a right wing-back.
1' We have a spectacular setting for this last-eight contest, with one end of the Estadio Municipal de Braga being cut into a sheer cliff-face. Will we get a match befitting of the surroundings?
1' We're underway in Portugal as Rangers get the ball rolling!
The teams are underway at the Estadio Municipal de Braga, and kick-off is just moments away!
Braga and Rangers’ only previous meeting in Europe came at the Last 32 stage of the Europa League in 2019-20, with Rangers winning both legs. At the time, they were only the second side to beat Braga home and away in the knockout rounds of the Europa League (also Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015-16). Can the Scottish side extend another glorious European run by repeating history against Braga here?
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, meanwhile, makes three alterations to the Rangers side which was beaten by Celtic, introducing Kamara, Arfield, and Sakala, with Ramsey, Aribo, and Roofe all dropping to the bench. Talismanic striker Alfredo Morelos is out, and will miss the rest of the season through injury.
Braga boss Carlos Carvalhal makes just two changes to the side which defeated Benfica 3-2 last time out in the Portuguese top flight, introducing David Carmo and Yan Couto to his starting XI. The hosts eliminated Monaco in impressive fashion in the last round, with Ruiz, who has as many goals in European action as he does in the league this term (two in each) opening the scoring at home.
SUBS: Robby McCrorie, Jonathan McLaughlin, Amad Diallo, Steven Davis, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Aribo, James Sands, Scott Wright, Kemar Roofe, Borna Barisic.
RANGERS (4-3-3): Allan McGregor; James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey; Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara, John Lundstram; Ryan Kent, Scott Arfield, Fashion Sakala.
SUBS: Tiago Sa, Lukas Hornicek, Diogo Leite, Paulo Oliveira, Lucas Mineiro, Leonardo Buta, Francisco Moura, Berna, Bruno Rodrigues, Castro, Miguel Fale, Victor Oliveira.
BRAGA (3-4-3): Matheus; Fabiano, Vitor Tormena, David Carmo; Yan Couto, Ali Musrati, Andre Horta, Rodrigo Gomes; Iuri Medeiros, Abel Ruiz, Ricardo Horta.
Rangers may have suffered a disappointing Old Firm derby defeat last time out to leave a successful defence of their Scottish title unlikely, but the Glaswegian giants have a chance to move one step closer to a first European final since 2008 when they travel to Braga. Their hosts sit fourth in the Portuguese top flight, and will need to win this competition to have any chance of Champions league football next term, making it a huge clash for both teams.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of this Europa League quarter-final clash as Rangers travel to Portugal for their first leg against Braga!