Another away game, another 1-1 draw. But my god this feels so much different from Tynecastle! At the wonderful Estadio do Dragao, with an away crowd who were in full voice and left no seat empty, unlike many home fans in Portugal, Rangers had a brilliant 55-60 minutes of football. Having gone behind, and been under the cosh for a good 10-15 minutes up to the first goal, we proceeded to create a lot of chances and give Porto much less time on the ball as we had done. There were some exceptional individual displays too, and the best thing about this night was that we looked more than capable of holding our own against such high calibre of opposition.
Allan McGregor – 8
The goal that we conceded was a top strike and there wasn’t anything McGregor could do about it. A couple of routine stops, but the highlight was the double save he made near the end. Both stops were excellent, the second is world class in fact, and McGregor showing us, once again, that he is able to stay sharp even when he has very little to do for an extended period.
James Tavernier – 7
At the start of the game we seemed to still witness a James Tavernier who was completely stripped of confidence. I heard someone say during the game “it’s almost like he has forgotten how to play football”. That was around the time where he blasted a shot high, wide and not very handsome. But, like the rest of the side, he came into the game more once we conceded, took ownership of his duties and, though not a stand out, redeemed his evening in the second half.
Connor Goldson – 7
Not the stand out centre back, and maybe had a bit of a tough time dealing with Porto forward Ze Luis, his header off the post in the first half comes to mind, but like Tavernier he grew as the game went on and he can have no complaints about his shift.
Filip Helander – 9
Steven Gerrard, as well as Chris Bett, stated that this was the game where Filip Helander arrived in a Rangers shirt. Although he has played very well for us before now, the Feyenoord game springs to mind, I think this is a fair statement. To make £3.5 million look like a bargain is going some way, but the Swedish international looked so assured and composed at this level, this is why he was brought here. Moussa Marega is a brilliant forward, he could play at a much higher level than Liga NOS, but Helander made him look ordinary. Well timed challenges, strong, not bullied in the slightest. On any other day, he would be Man of the Match.
Borna Barisic – 9 – Man of the Match
Speaking of Man of the Match, for the second game in a row, but this performance was so much better as well. Now we should say that he maybe found it difficult dealing with the Porto right back Corona, he is very good to be fair, but what was so good about Barisic was his crossing. As soon as the Mexican wide man was no longer his concern (we will get to why later) BB simply had to focus on getting forward. The beauty of his assist is that it’s a first time ball, which is running down the touchline, but the way he delivers it, it almost looks like a free kick as its perfect for Morelos to get on the end of. He had another cross in the second half that could have gone in, but the big plus point about the man who “turns and goes” is Corona had to spend more time defending in the second half.
Ryan Jack – 8
Our midfield just seemed so much more settled after Jack’s return to the side. Here is someone who probably dreams about our shape in the middle of the park. He is like a Shakespearean actor, he knows his hundreds of lines off by heart. His booking was a sensible one, as it was either that or Porto having a free shot at goal in the box, and his moment of slack passing does ultimately cost us a goal, but our passing in the second half, where we saw us play lots of triangles and run rings around the Portuguese giants, Jack is at the epicentre of it all. A true leader is shining through, and he is a f*cking Protestant!
Steven Davis – 8
Initially I thought Davis maybe wasn’t as important to us in this game in the end. But, on reflection, he is such a key cog for the way we perform in the second half. He, like many, struggled in that 15 minute period where Porto put us under severe pressure, a couple of loose passes here and there, but his second half display was superb.
Glen Kamara – 8
I mentioned earlier about Borna Barisic not having to focus so much on defending the Porto right back Corona. This is because Glen Kamara took ownership of dealing with the defensive duties on that side. This seems to be the level of game that Kamara thrives in, it’s a lot closer to what we believe he can do for us, and maybe it’s a case of him being a special player for special games, his game might not be as suited for Hamilton Academical for example. He had some slack moments in possession, but he also had some nice dribbles on the ball which balanced things out quite nicely.
Brandon Barker – 7
Certainly the most surprising inclusion in the side was that of Brandon Barker, clearly the thought process was “speed on the counter”. It’s fair to say that he could have been a bit stronger in the challenge, but I thought he worked his socks off for the team, and even though he tried things that, mainly, didn’t really pay off, the fact he tried them warms my heart.
Alfredo Morelos – 8
First of all, let’s talk about the finish. Getting that amount of time in the box and putting it away in that fashion shows nothing but pure and sublime quality. He smacks the ball in, and he is on the end of one of the finest team goals that Rangers have scored in a very long time, and what a stage to do it on! He was unfortunate not to score a couple of headers too, the woodwork and a miraculous save denying him on each occasion, but the defence could not handle him. The big talking point going into the game was the battle between Morelos and Pepe. Pepe got booked, Morelos scored. You tell me who won that duel. For any scouts who were in attendance, the price has just gone up another £5 million. So he will now cost £1 billion plus £5 million. Seems reasonable, right?
Ryan Kent – 8
This is why we wanted him back so much. Kent was at the centre of so much of our attacking play. The opposition didn’t know what to do with him, he would go inside, outside, cut back, track back, take a shot, find a pass, Kent had the lot here. His highlight was the clever ball to Barisic which set up the goal, just a deft touch of pure, unadulterated quality. It’s great to have the wee man back in the team.
Joe Aribo – 6
Gerrard held off until quite late to make his first substitute, quite sensible in fact as it helped slow the game down and make it tougher for Porto to come back into things that much. Nothing major of note from Joe here though.
Scott Arfield – 6
A rest for Scott Arfield, hooray! Get the bunting out, let’s celebrate this glorious event! Granted he still comes on for 10 minutes, but I’m so happy he at least had the chance to get some energy back in those legs.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
Sheyi Ojo, I hope you watched Ryan Kent’s performance here and studied it ferociously. This is the kind of impact you can have on a game, work rate is key and of late it’s not been present in Ojo. Let’s see if, in the longer run, more obvious competition for places will make him up his game.
Player ratings from our sides thumping victory over Ross County.