Zvezda beat the Rangers (2:1) after a second leg of the Europa League 1/8 finals in which they dominated most of the tempo. Unfortunately for the Red and Whites, the initial 0:3 in Glasgow were out of reach.
Do you guys believe (in what a man can do)? -I believe. -I do, too.
This dialogue from one of Serbia’s cult movie classics is the best way to describe both the fans’ and the squad’s approach to the second leg after a defeat in Glasgow. As the case was at Ibrox Zvezda had multiple shots they failed to eventuate. Thankfully the bizarre hat-trick annulled due to offsides didn’t repeat itself in Belgrade.
The players of Dejan Stanković created good opportunities (17 shots, 13 shots on target, 59% possession) but had trouble with the materialisation. The ball flew less than an inch from the Rangers’s keeper at least twice.
Just get in already! – a full house of fans was yelling after each shot on target desperate to see the first goal. Their wishes finally came true as Mirko Ivanić scored (10′). Delirious, they celebrated while watching the replay of a Euromatch beauty. Zvezda was on the offensive and the quarterfinals felt realistic. The first condition of an early goal was achieved.
Zvezda’s attempts continued, not letting the pace to drop. Unfortunately with no success. For all of their efforts the players earned the ovations of some 47.000 fans and the stands were then lit by cellphones as the crowd sang: “Give peace a chance” at halftime.
With the start of the second half Zvezda had two consecutive shots on target. Both were stopped by McGregor. Before a third Rangers’ Kent scored (56′) for a loud reaction of the away fans tucked away in their away corner.
Many would mention luck as an important factor in this 1/8 final Fixture. The reality of football and sport in general is that the opponent makes you pay for the missed opportunities. The Rangers managed to cross to the home side on a handful of occasions. What they showed in Belgrade was far from spectacular. However, given the three goals in Glasgow it was enough.
Regarding the Serbian home front, the singing never stopped and neither did the desire of the players wearing red and white to get a win. Despite the Europa League now being out of reach. Finally they earned themselves a penalty (90′). With Ben scoring the fan applause showed confidence. Yes, everyone was aware they wouldn’t be moving passed the Glaswegians. But they also felt they deserved this win. At least one.
Tonight’s 2:1 brings important European coefficient points for the Serbian side. An important bonus for next season’s fight for a Champions League return. Zvezda now brings focus to the fight for the Superliga trophy.
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