Probably the most relaxing European game that we have had or indeed will have for a long time, given there was absolutely nothing riding on the result, as our boys were sent to France to take in Lyon in matchday 6 of our Europa League group stage campaign for the season. Lyon, having won all five of their previous ties in the group, would finish top and avoid the play off round where as we secured our spot in the play offs last time out, with thoughts turning to who we might face, whether it be a glamorous tie in Spain, a return to Leipzig or journey’s much further east than desired. Due to this situation, it meant that Giovanni van Bronckhorst could select a different side to give other players an opportunity to impress against a top side and see who would be able to push for more regular starting spots. The then meant that any hopes of a result from the game would be unlikely unless the players stepped up, and in fairness that is exactly what they did. Lyon were trying to make use of balls over the top and in behind, but on a few occasions the man wearing the armband for the French side, a former foe of ours, was unable to do anything of note (amazing what happens when he comes up against proper defenders for a change). But we also looked to provide a threat, with a shot from distance hitting the post which would have been a wonderful bit of quick thinking had it gone in. However, we would be the team to take the lead after some superb work down the left hand side allowed one of the incoming players to hit a shot which deflected passed the goalkeeper to put us ahead. With the balance of play and chances, it was a deserved lead and one that gave our support a lot of encouragement going forward.
The second half saw Lyon restore parity early on, a move down the right hand side that saw a low ball in deflected past our keeper by our own defender. A cruel way to be pegged back but, as eluded to, not something that particularly troubled our nerves. The quality of the second half diminished from there on in, a lot of changes from both benches to make sure that key players would not be injured for upcoming ties, although both sides had late opportunities to snatch all three points. A game that both teams could have won or lost, a draw an absolutely fair result, and Rangers can take some kudos for ending Lyon’s perfect record in a competition that has served them far better than domestic matters. Home form is now all that we need to think about now for the next few weeks in the build up to our winter break, but all eyes will be on the draw in Nyon on Monday to see how we will face in a tie we will most likely not be favourites for, but one we will look forward to all the same.
Here is how you rated our players from our draw away in Lyon.
Jon McLaughlin – 6.7 (7)
It’s been a while since we last saw McLaughlin between the sticks, a clear sign that we are better to stick to one number 1, but perfectly reasonable to give Jon a go in this game. He is a different style of keeper, far more comfortable receiving the ball to feet and moving it along the deck, as well as coming off his line sooner (a good palm away on the edge of the area a good example of this). Can’t blame him for the goal, made a good save right at the end to rescue the point.
Nathan Patterson – 5.9 (6)
Many in the support have talked about the idea of Nathan deserving more opportunities at right back from the start, and the sentiment is totally understandable, but there were a few things here that made us fans realise that the time for that is still a bit away. Lyon tended to attack our right hand side as they were getting far more success from this. He did struggle on a few occasions against their attackers, but the worst moment was right at the end when he fails to deal with the ball in our third and gives it away unnecessarily, only for our keeper to spare his blushes. Still mighty talented, but it shows that Tavernier is still our best right back and has himself been getting better of late.
Connor Goldson – 7.0 (8) – Man of the Match
I think the idea of Connor Goldson being seen as Man of the Match in a game for us merely a month or so ago would have been laughed out of court. But he has shown himself to be far more important to us of late, both in terms of his actual defensive work as well as helping others. He seems to be doing wonders for Bassey as an experienced head to play alongside. And he made a number of clearances in the area which is what should be done in that area. His form of late at the back is far more encouraging.
Calvin Bassey – 6.8 (8)
For him to be the player that scored the own goal is desperately harsh as he was one of the best players on the park here. The good things that he did were the same things that he has been doing so well all season, both in terms of timing the challenge well and being that bit quicker than strikers expect to face up against in a centre back. Gio will no doubt feel he has done enough to keep his place, and what happens when the other centre backs are fit will be interesting to see.
Borna Barisic – 6.2 (7)
A quieter night for him but given he is one of the few current “first team players” to have played here anyway I am fairly pleased about this. He showed some extra attacking intent by getting forward with the odd shot but otherwise it was a no issue night. People talking about the gap between him and Bassey at the back is one thing we will need to keep an eye on though.
John Lundstram – 6.0 (6)
His role in this team will be to be a disruptor, a valuable trait for a team that want things shut down, but whether that affords him a lot of starts in the game I will be interested to see. I find it far less likely that he will be getting the chance to have a pop from distance as GVB will likely want him to be more disciplined than that, but knowing that this is what he can do, he will surely have a small role to play.
Glen Kamara – 6.1 (7)
I’ve mentioned the good work he has done as a midfield enforcer of late but we saw some superb attacking work from him in the build up to our goal. On the left hand side, he does great to get passed his man before playing a great pass along the deck which was then knocked in. A really smart moment, something he has shown he can do in Europe before, and him only playing 45 minutes was a smart decision.
Scott Wright – 6.2 (7)
He will have loved to get his first European goal for us on a great stage in France, and it was certainly the highlight of his game. Taking on the shot on the edge of the area, he benefits from the deflection that sees the ball find the net, which should not take away from the fact he took on the shot. The worry here was the lack of defensive help he gave Patterson, and if his future in the team is to be a regular starter on the right hand side (which I think will suit him best) then he will need to make that something he does far more often.
Ianis Hagi – 5.4 (6)
I’m underwhelmed by his performance in the position that I really feel is his best. The game was played on the wing when we got forward, so a lot of the time he had to go out there to help influence things. But over the game there was never a moment of “aw superb bit of skill” or “what a pass”. It’s frustrating because we know he can, but whether we persist with him starting on the basis of our knowledge of what he can do, is to be determined.
Ryan Kent – 6.5 (7)
It might have been because it was a second string side in many respects but Kent really stood out in many ways. The last time he was on this pitch he had a very odd choice of hairstyle, but this time with a far more conservative do, he was far more straight forward and he was keeping it simple, much to Roy Makaay’s delight I’m sure. So many nice moments, nice touches, good link with Kamara for the goal, and overall quality.
Kemar Roofe – 5.6 (6)
Very unfortunate not to score with a well crafted chance when played through. He has the ball 30 yards out and sees the keeper well off his line, it was worth taking on the shot and it hits the outside of the post. A bit more bend and it would have been a superb Europa League strike (although not his best of course). A bright moment in an otherwise frustrating evening for him in terms of being on the end of things, whether injury played a part in that or not is worth questioning.
Steven Davis – 5.5 (6)
On for the second half but given how the game really didn’t do a huge amount from our perspective in the second half, I suppose his overall task wasn’t fulfilled. But this was an exercise in keeping players as fresh as possible, the sub at half time made complete sense.
Scott Arfield – 5.3 (6)
I’m quite glad that there wasn’t a huge amount to take away from this as it keeps Arfield fresh for a big game at the weekend against Hearts where I am sure he will be wanting to play a part in that. A simple night for him with a lack of any real drama.
Juninho Bacuna – 4.9 (5)
Again I am seeing people making judgements on Bacuna on the basis of a sub appearance where it was highly unlikely he was going to make an impact. What was interesting was he played in a few different positions during the game, so clearly Gio knows that is something he could turn to if need be.
Joe Aribo – 5.4 (6)
He was very close to getting a great goal following a long ball over the top from Goldson. He just couldn’t quite get the ball under control but had he done so it would have been a superb end to the game and a brilliant impact off the bench from one of our best players at the moment.