Well, what a game that was. I’m sure neutral fans enjoyed it a lot more than Rangers fans at times though. In and end to end game, PSV had more control of the ball and created more chances.
That being said, Rangers more than held their own against a top side. PSV are definitely no mugs and they didn’t have it all their own way at Ibrox last night. The game ended exactly the same as it did last year, with everything left to play for in Eindhoven.
Let’s focus on some positives from the performance. It wasn’t all great, there are still some issues needing ironed out. If Rangers played like that every week domestically though, they’d wipe the floor with the majority of teams in the league.
It was disappointing to concede a set piece goal, especially consider de Jong didn’t even get his head on it. It wasn’t great defensively for either goal, both Raskin and Goldson were caught up by Saibari’s dummy for the first goal. Then Souttar gets caught under the ball for de Jong’s rather fortunate finish.
Despite that, let’s focus on some positives to take to The Netherlands next Wednesday.
Goldson And Souttar as a Partnership
Like I said previously, both players probably could’ve done a bit better at the goals. Apart from that though, I thought they were excellent. They cut out so many crosses and covered brilliantly for the full backs even when they had two players to mark at times.
They should be Rangers first choice partnership this season. Both players are willing to put their bodies on the line for the club. Their commitment to the cause is second to none.
It also helps that both players are really good passers of the ball. Then Souttar is particularly comfortable dribbling the ball out from the back. It’s been great seeing their partnership and relationship build. They are, without a doubt, the first choices in the position.
Todd Cantwell’s Intelligence
The positions the Englishman picks up are incredible. He somehow always manages to fit a pocket of space in which to receive the ball. I honestly felt sorry for him in the first half last night.
He got into so many good positions and would drive forward then have no support. If the support was there they weren’t showing for the ball or making good enough runs to be played through on goal.
Then came the second goal. He does brilliantly to get passed the PSV player then drives forward. His pass to Dessers is timed perfectly before the striker plays a stunning pass into Matondo who provided an Henry-esque finish.
All three players played their part wonderfully in the goal. However, it’s Cantwell’s touch into the middle of the pitch that makes it. He puts the ball into space then releases the pass at exactly the right time.
He’s a wonderful footballer and provides so much at the number 10 spot for Rangers. That’s where his position should be and he’s the one the team should be built around. I think, at this moment, he’s one of our most crucial players.
Rabbi’s Redemption Kicks Into Gear
The 22-year-old Wales international is starting to look like the player we all hoped he would be. He was great when he came on against Livingston and got an assist. He was one of the few bright sparks against Morton also.
Then tonight he comes on and finally gets his Rangers goal. A truly excellent counter attacking goal that was finished expertly. He was so much more positive than Sima when he came on.
It really looks like he’s got his confidence back. He’s now playing with a swagger and is willing to take his marker on every time.
I think many forget he’s still young, he had a tough first season being in and out the team due to form and injury. He’s had a good preseason behind him and looks like he’s bulked up.
The redemption arc for Rabbi Matondo is well and truly on. I really hope he gets a start in Eindhoven next week.
Michael Beale’s Post Match Thoughts
The manager had this to say after the game last night;
I thought at times we played really well, when we were suffering defensively we had to work extremely hard and I thought the team did that – I thought they showed a lot of togetherness.
We scored two fantastic goals. I am delighted for Abdallah Sima and Rabbi Matondo. It is Rabbi’s first goal and of late he has found a real rich vein of form.
There’s a tinge of regret because the second goal is from a set-play and then after that we have a huge chance where we can score with Danilo but what that shows is we can create chances.
The games against teams at elite level are never perfect, there are times in the game where I’d like to see us stay with the ball a little bit more and show a little bit more composure but all in all I thought the team put everything into the game tonight and that is what we demand from them.
I think you could see everyone gave everything to the cause and next week everything is to play for, we know we can hurt them and they know we can hurt them as well.
It is a new team, and we have got new players. I thought Cyriel Dessers was excellent. He backed into the centre halves, but he got us up the pitch. At times I would like people to get closer to him.
He gets an assist for the first goal, it is a wonderful finish from Abdallah, that’s what he can bring. He is a number nine who can play wide on the right, or wide on the left. He can run, he is strong, he is good in the air and that was a wonderful goal from him.
For Rabbi’s goal, Todd [Cantwell] won the ball in midfield and it was a good pass to Cyriel, but his footwork and pass was perfect for Rabbi, and it was a cool finish. At that stage we have the game where we want it and that is where the tinge of frustration is, but we have got to let that go, we need to reset and we need to make sure we perform strongly this weekend at Ross County because it is a big game for everybody.
Then we will go across to Eindhoven with the fans and we are going to play a cup final. It is a one-off game and if anyone doubts us then that will be more fool them because we will go over there with every confidence we can get this job done.
They have got good players and we knew we had to defend strongly but our frustration is maybe that in the most part of the game Jack [Butland] had very little to do in terms of saves.
To concede off a set-play is really disappointing because we had the game where we wanted it to be, but it is fine margins and I’ll back our boys next week if we get set-plays to go and even that up.Michael Beale to RTV
Jack Butland also deserves a shout out. He’s commanded the box really well since his arrival and is a safe pair of hands. Replacing a club legend was always going to be tough but Butland has had a very promising start to his Rangers career.
This was a performance Rangers fan build on. We held our own against a top side and probably had better chances to win it. Standout performances from this mentioned above and the likes of Cifuentes and Raskin are still capable of kicking it up a level or two.
The game plan for next week has to be the same as last night. We need to go to Eindhoven and go for it, no sitting back hoping to get a counter. Press them high and get in their faces.
PSV have some wonderful footballers in the midfield and front line but they don’t look solid defensively. Rangers must exploit that.
How did you feel about the performance and how do you feel going into the second leg?
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ICYMI read our article about Todd Cantwell’s importance here.