Rangers hold Champions League advantage after 2-1 win over Servette

The Ibrox side lead at the halfway stage of the qualifying tie.

Rangers hold Champions League advantage after home win over Servette SNS Group

James Tavernier and Cyriel Dessers scored to give Rangers a 2-1 lead in their Champions League qualifying tie with Servette after a hard-fought match at Ibrox.

Tavernier netted an early penalty and Desser scored his first Rangers goal but the summer signing also conceded a penalty that Servette scored to give them a foothold in the tie.

The Swiss side had David Douline sent off in the second half but held on to keep the home side to just a one-goal advantage going into next week’s second leg.

Rangers manager Michael Beale had made three changes form the side that lost 1-0 in their Premiership opener, handing Danilo a first start and bringing Ryan Jack and Todd Cantwell into the starting line-up. Abdallah Sima, Kieran Dowell and John Lundstram dropped to the bench.

Beale would have been hoping for a bright start to help dispel some of the gloom from the league defeat. He got exactly that as his team took the lead after six minutes.

David Douline thought he had time to clear a ball in the Servette box but was caught out when Todd Cantwell nipped in to steal possession and the Frenchman lunged in rashly to concede a penalty.

James Tavernier, scorer of plenty vital goals in European competition, stepped up to the spot and put Rangers in front.

The team was visibly lifted by the goal and proceeded to dominate the play, adding a second goal after a quarter of an hour had been played.

John Souttar strode forward from defence and released Borna Barisic down the left hand side. The Croatian’s cross wasn’t dealt with at the near post and Cyriel Dessers was presented with an open goal, opening his account for Rangers with ease.

The Ibrox side then looked to be on top and ready to press on and try to kill the tie but five minutes from the break Servette were handed a lifeline. With spectators none the wiser about the reason for the stop in play, referee Donatas Rumsas went to the sidelines to review an incident and ruled that the Swiss side were to get a penalty after Cyriel Dessers had handled the ball when defending a high ball into the box.

After going head-to-head with Rangers keeper Jack Butland, Servette’s Chris Bedia slammed in his penalty to make it 2-1.

Rangers came out on the front foot in the second half, looking to extend their lead and make next week’s trip to Switzerland more comfortable. They thought they had a third goal in the 54th minute when Sam Lammers hit a first time shot from ten yards that Joel Mell somehow saved.

Servette weren’t without their own attacking intent, and John Souttar saw yellow for stopping a promising counter from Boubacar Fofana, but Rangers were making most of the play though without reward.

The Swiss side made their job harder with half an hour to go. Douline had already been booked for a tug on Sam Lammers in the first half and when he raced forward to try and hit a loose ball towards goal, only to catch Cantwell, referee Rumsas instantly flashed a second yellow card and sent the midfielder off.

Servette had scored twice against Genk with ten men in the previous round but Rangers allowed little encouragement to the visitors after the dismissal.

Dessers forced another big save from Mell, and Rangers were finding it easier to work the ball into the opposition box, but Servette dug in.

A raft  of changes, including a Rangers debut for Jose Cifuentes, marked the latter stages and a head injury to Steve Roullier after a clash with Sima caused a lengthy delay.

Neither side could find a goal to change the balance of the tie, setting up what looks to be a tense and nervy second leg in Geneva on Tuesday.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code