Rangers ended their pre-season campaign with a well-deserved 2-1 win over the visiting Real Madrid at Ibrox on Sunday.
Steven Gerrard’s side have tested themselves against some top opposition this month, picking up a 2-2 draw with Arsenal and securing a goalless draw against Brighton, but their biggest test by far was this final visit from Real.
Well, it was supposed to be their biggest test, but it didn’t play out like that. At all.
From the first whistle, Rangers were on top of this game, so much so that they weren’t even bothered when they fell 1-0 behind early on. Against the run of play, Rodrygo ended up bearing down on goal and the young Brazilian profited from some sloppy defending to slot home past Allan McGregor after just eight minutes.
Chances to equalise came almost immediately. Connor Goldson’s header was impressively saved by Andriy Lunin, who one-upped himself with an excellent stop from Ryan Kent just seconds later.
With barely 20 minutes on the clock, Rangers could have had three or four, and new signing Fashion Sakala spurned the best chance for an early equaliser as he dawdled on the ball and ended up firing his shot wide.
The 12,750 fans inside Ibrox were left scratching their heads over how Rangers were still behind, their confusion only grew as half-time arrived and Rangers hadn’t managed to convert at least one of their 17 shots on goal. For comparison, Real had one, and it went in.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men were slightly brighter after the break, but Rangers finally got their deserved equaliser through Sakala in the 55th minute. It was a powerful strike from the Zambian, but credit must go to the excellent midfield work of Glen Kamara in the build-up.
Rangers’ tempo began to drop as Gerrard began to tinker with his lineup, but they remained on top and took a stronger hold on the game as Real defender Nacho was sent off on the 75th minute for his second yellow card which, if we’re being honest, was probably a straight red in any game other than a friendly.
Just two minutes later, Rangers got the go-ahead goal they had thoroughly deserved. Cedric Itten’s prolific pre-season continued with an excellent volley which left the otherwise brilliant Lunin with absolutely no chance.
Ancelotti appeared to recognise that his side were cooked and instead switched his focus to giving more of his squad players minutes, and the lack of cohesion made for a routine end to the game for Rangers.
The Gers finished with 21 shots on goal compared to Real’s five, sending an ominous warning to the rest of the Scottish Premiership. Rangers mean business yet again.