Luggage will feel light, but Rangers know how close they came

Gut-wrenching defeat for Rangers as extraordinary Europa League campaign comes to an end.

Luggage will feel light, but Rangers know how close they came to winning Europa League SNS Group
Aaron Ramsey holds his head in his hands after missing from the spot.

When the Rangers players packed up for the flight back to Glasgow, they were missing the one piece of hand luggage they desperately desired.

In the end, the Europa League trophy was going to Frankfurt as Rangers’ extraordinary campaign came to a deflating end in Seville.

A penalty miss was the difference between the two sides, allowing Eintracht to wrap up victory in gut-wrenching fashion for the Scots.

Just over two hours earlier at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Rangers walked out for only the fifth European final in their history.

Millions of pairs of eyes were watching across the world – around 100,000 travelled to Spain, while at home in Scotland thousands packed into pubs and glued their eyes to the big screen.

For those (officially 9,500 but at least twice that in reality) inside the ground, Joe Aribo sent them delirious when he put the Ibrox side ahead in the 57th minute.

Rangers were leading – and their fans at home and abroad were believing.

Joe Aribo celebrates putting Rangers ahead in Seville.Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Joe Aribo celebrates putting Rangers ahead in Seville.

But you don’t put the likes of Barcelona out the competition if you don’t have fight in you – and that’s what Frankfurt showed just ten minutes later.

After 90 minutes, it was 1-1 and extra-time loomed – another gruelling half-hour in the scorching heat of Seville.

As the clock ticked down, immortality fell at the feet of Ryan Kent. He had to score… just yards from goal and only the keeper to beat. But Kevin Trapp denied him, a stunning save to send the final to penalties.

One by one, the spot-kicks were put away, until Aaron Ramsey, a high-profile loan signing from Juventus brought on in the dying minutes specially to take a shot at glory from 12 yards, saw his effort denied by Trapp’s foot.

An agonising moment for Rangers fans as Ryan Kent's effort is blocked.SNS Group
An agonising moment for Rangers fans as Ryan Kent’s effort is blocked.

Rangers’ fate was out of their own hands and Rafael Borre refused to give them a second chance, etching his name into Eintracht folklore.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves – the Scottish Cup final is on Saturday, their last chance to ensure an unforgettable season doesn’t end without silverware.