Rangers have suffered their second heavy defeat in the space of five days as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men struggled to keep up with Ajax in Amsterdam on their return to the Champions League.
The Dutch champions ran out 4-0 winners after a sensational display of attacking football in the first half as last year’s Europa League finalists struggled with the intensity and speed of their relentless hosts.
For the second game in the row the Ibrox side found themselves 3-0 down before the half time whistle had blown following on from Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Celtic Park.
That means it is now eight goals conceded without reply in their last two games and van Bronckhorst will be hoping they can turn their form around quickly or face the season slipping away from them with a host of crunch games domestically and in Europe in the coming weeks.
Antonio Colak was the only player in the starting line-up with any previous Champions League experience, from his time at Malmo last season, as Rangers returned to the group stage for the first time in 12 years and at times it showed as they were taught a lesson at the home of total football.
Ajax have won five from five in the Eredivisie this season and it didn’t take long to see why as the four-times European Cup winners treated their fans to a vintage throw-back performance against a Rangers side who were reduced to onlookers for large parts of the first half in particular.
Edson Alvarez opened the scoring for the home side after 17 minutes when the Mexican midfielder, who was linked with a big money move to Chelsea last month, headed past John McLaughlin.
Ajax came close to doubling the lead just three minutes later when Rensch came charging through from right-back but his shot was well saved by McLaughlin who put it behind for a corner.
Ajax continued to dominate in a style synonymous with the club as Rangers struggled to get a grip of the game particularly in the midfield area.
As the 30th minute approached the away fans would have been feeling fortunate to still only be 1-0 as Ajax failed to take advantage of a string of attacks that seemed relentless at times.
Van Bronckhorst would have been hoping they could hold out until half time and regroup, but just after the half hour mark the floodgates opened with two goals in two minutes.
Berghuis doubled the lead with a deflected shot before Kudus put the game beyond Rangers when he made it three with an unstoppable strike past McLaughlin.
For the second time in consecutive games Rangers went into the break three goals down and the captain was one of three changes as van Bronckhorst looked to stem the tide.
Tavernier, Scott Wright and Malik Tillman were replaced by Leon King, Ryan Jack and Rabbi Matondo.
But the second half continued in much the same vein as the first and Ajax continued to toy with the visitors as they kept creating chances and dominating possession, if at times lacking the electric intensity of the opening 45.
Ranges thought they had a lifeline with 20 minutes to go when Borna Barisic broke through and curled a right-footed shot into the top corner of the goals and finally gave the travelling support something to cheer.
But that fleeting moment of joy was short lived when VAR officials ruled the goal out for offside.
Steven Bergwijn then made it 4-0 with just over ten minutes to go when he latched on to a loose pass from Jack and take the ball round McLaughlin before rolling it into the empty net for his eighth goal in seven games since signing from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer.
It’s Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the Premiership on Saturday for Rangers before Napoli are welcomed at Ibrox for gameday two in the Champions League on Tuesday.