Steven Gerrard’s 50th European tie as Rangers boss ended in a 2-0 Europa League defeat by Lyon at Ibrox.
Cameroon international Karl Toko Ekambi fired in a terrific opener for the French side after 22 minutes of the Group A opener in Govan.
The Scottish champions had come close on a few occasions in the first half but in the 55th minute Gers skipper James Tavernier put through his own goal trying to stop a close-range shot from Islam Slimani and, despite a huge effort from the home side, it was too big a lead to claw back.
Gerrard, who had suffered only eight defeats in Europe previously with Rangers, had warned of Lyon’s quality before the game, describing them as arguably the best side he had encountered in his tenure as Gers boss, and in the final analysis the visitors had just that bit too much on the night.
However, Rangers can be pleased to an extent with their performance and there is still plenty of time to get back on track.
Gerrard was boosted by the return of Connor Goldson to the defence after Covid isolation to replace Filip Helander who will be out for months after sustaining a knee injury against St Johnstone at the weekend.
Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, left-back Borna Barisic and midfielder John Lundstram also returned.
Lyon boss Peter Bosz, who guided Bayer Leverkusen to victory over Rangers in the last 16 of the Europa League in 2020, was without former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele through injury, with Algeria forward Slimani taking over the role.
In a tepid start to the game Goldson was booked by referee Swedish referee Andreas Ekberg in the 13th minute for a high tackle on Toko Ekambi which required both players to receive treatment.
The Lyon attacker soon damaged the Ibrox side after Ryan Kent was caught in possession in the centre-circle.
The ball was quickly fed out to Toko Ekambi who cut inside Lundstram and curled a right-footed shot from 25 yards past McGregor and into the far corner of the net, silencing the home supporters.
Just before the half-hour mark, as Rangers rallied and pressed for the leveller,
Joe Aribo’s angled-drive from 18 yards was parried away by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and then Lundstram came close with a drive which just escaped the far post.
At the other end, Lyon defender Malo Gusto fired wide of the far post after captain Houssem Aouar and Lucas Paqueta sliced through the Gers defence.
Back came the Govan side again and a Kent drive from 14 yards on the turn was brilliantly beaten away by Lopes.
Lyon’s second goal came after Kent lost possession again, this time at the edge of the box.
Aouar’s shot was parried by McGregor, with Paqueta’s shot blocked to Slimani whose close-range shot struck Goldson before it hit Tavernier and limped over the line.
Scruffy as the goal was, it was a long way back for the home side.
In the 63rd minute Tavernier’s free-kick from 25 yards struck the outside of the Lyon post and sped behind.
There was no doubting Rangers’ work rate – defender Leon Balogun headed a Tavernier free-kick over the bar in one of several attacks – but Lyon held firm.
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