Rangers stay in Europa League with victory over Real Betis in Seville

Rangers knew they had to win in Seville to guarantee a place in the Europa League knockout stages.

Rangers reach Europa League knockout stage with win over Real Betis in Seville SNS Group

Rangers have booked their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League with a 3-2 win over Real Betis in a pulsating game in Seville.

Abdallah Sima and Cyriel Dessers scored in a breathless first-half that ended two goals apiece before surviving some scary moments in the second as the Spanish side pushed for a third.

But it was Kemar Roofe who grabbed the winner late in the second-half to put Rangers top of the group and continue their journey in the competition they reached the final of in 2022.

They returned to the city where they lost that final after an agonising penalty shootout two years ago but this time they were celebrating the outcome with an impressive victory over the team sitting seventh in the Spanish top-flight.

It was Rangers’ first away win over Spanish opposition and the first time Real Betis have lost at home this season.

The win tops off an impressive week for Scottish clubs in Europe as they made it three wins out of three with Celtic and Aberdeen also victorious.

But it is only Rangers who are left to represent the country on the continent into the new year as they take their place in the last-16.

Sparta Prague beat Aris Limassol in the other Group C game to also book their place in the Europa League knockout stages as Betis drop into the Conference League

Philippe Clement made it 13 games unbeaten in all competitions since he took over from Michael Beale in October with his tenth win.

Sima continued his recent run of good form when he scored after only nine minutes to give Rangers an early lead.

James Tavernier cut out a Betis attack before giving the ball to McCausland who ran at the defence before squaring to Dessers who touched into the path of the on-loan Brighton forward and smashed it into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

The home side fought back and cut the Rangers defence open on a couple of occasions before Juan Miranda scored to make it 1-1.

Rangers then had to weather a mini-storm as Betis looked to get themselves in front with a flurry of chances.

Jack Butland saved well from Bellerin before a thunderbolt from Andres Guardado flew past Butland but struck the underside of the bar and came back out the way.

But as fluent as the hosts looked going forward their defence showed signs that they could be got at as Rangers began to grow in confidence.

And it was the visiting support who were celebrating again when Dessers put them back in front against the run of the play with a bit of individual brilliance.

The Nigeria forward beat two Betis defenders before calmly slotting it through the legs of Rui Silva to make it 2-1 with 20 minutes gone.

The fourth goal of a first-half that was flowing end-to-end went to the home side when Perez curled a shot past Butland and into the corner of the net after good work from Isco on the edge of the area to play him in.

Real Betis stayed on the front-foot when the second-45 got underway and Rangers had to survive another couple of scares early in the half.

Rangers had their first real chance of the half when Lammers was tripped right on the edge of the box, but Barisic’s effort struck the wall.

Betis then had the ball in the net with just over 20 minutes remaining but the goal was chopped off for a handball.

As the score from Cyprus started to filter through, Rangers knew they would need a late goal to stay in the competition and Kemar Roofe stepped up to the plate to turn the ball into the net from close range to make it 3-2 with just over ten minutes on the clock.

Connor Goldson fired it across the box and Rabbi Matondo got a touch on to it before Roofe put it in the net to put Rangers ahead again.

They held out for the victory that not only sees them top the group but they will now pass the playoff stage and go straight to the last-16 and are now just three ties away from the final being held in Dublin.

However their attention will now turn to Hampden for Sunday’s League Cup final against Aberdeen and a chance to lift the first silverware of the season.

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