3 major talking points as Rangers end miserable Champions League campaign with six defeats out of six
The Ibrox side are now on the longest ever losing streak in European competition.
Six games. Six defeats. Zero points. Two goals scored. 22 conceded. It’s safe to say Rangers return to the Champions League group stage for the first time in over a decade has been nothing short of atrocious.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s beleagured side appears badly in need of reinforcements and the January transfer window can’t come quickly enough for the Dutchman - if he survives that period of time.
With four experienced central defenders missing through injury, a lack of midfield options and just one fully fit striker at his disposal, under fire Van Bronckhorst will be pleased the club’s European nightmare is finally over. He must somehow lift his team on the back off another harrowing night for the remaining three Scottish Premiership matches before the World Cup break.
In a one-sided first-half against Ajax last night, the Eredivisie champions quickly set about reminding home fans of the mauling they served up on matchday one in Amsterdam back in September.
Steven Davis and Scott Arfield, with a combined age of 71, were unable to get to grips with the midfield battle, while stand-in centre-back James Sands could do little to help guide Leon King and stem the flow of Dutch attacks.
While it must be acknowledged this was always going to be a brutally difficult section to advance from, the scale on which a Rangers side devoid of any real intensity or belief has been obiterated throughout almost all six matches is a major cause for concern.
GlasgowWorld reflects on the three main talking points on a sombre evening for Rangers...
Gers face up to unwanted record
It’s hard to believe that less than six months ago this Rangers team were competing in the Europa League final, having knocked out the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Braga and RB Leipzig on route to Seville.
Now, Van Bronckhorst’s side must face up to the ultimate humiliation of officially becoming the worst ever team in Champions League group stage history - taking the record away from Dinamo Zagreb in season 2011/12.
Of course, fans already knew it was going to be a distinct possibility heading into this match, but they would’ve been absolutely desperate to avoid it coming to fruition with even a goalless draw likely to have been deemed a success before a ball was kicked.
The 3-1 loss in front of their own supporters means Rangers finish the campaign without a single point and an alarming goal difference of -20. Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen could have saved the Glasgow giants blushes if they had lost by two goals more than the deficit at Ibrox to Barcelona, but they only lost 4-2.
Kind endures night to forget
It was never going to be easy for 18-year-old Leon King against the Dutch side after the youngster was, once again, pitched in at the deep end given he was the only fit centre-back in the first-team squad.
The teenager has performed admirably over the course of Rangers dismal European campaign, and at times has been the shining light in this Gers line-up but he made a number of costly mistakes which led to both of the visitors’ first-half goals.
King hesitated after thinking the ball was going wide of the post when Berghuis opened the scoring after just four minutes. At the second goal, he failed to keep tabs on his marker and when Kudus fired his effort goalwards, the defender moved towards it rather than let Allan McGregor produce a save and the ball took a big deflection of him into the net.
The academy graduate is unlikely to look back on this match any time soon. Overall, it has been a tough learning experience that will undoubtedly stand him in good stead as he continues to develop.
Flat Ibrox atmosphere
Ibrox Stadium is renowned across Europe for producing a sensational atmosphere, particularly in Europe, but the fans passionate backing of their team wasn’t on display during this match.
Light Blues supporters turned up in large numbers as they tried to spur the players on to a memorable victory but after conceding such an early goal heads immediately began to drop in the stands. There seemed an air of inevitability and acceptance that their side weren’t going to turn a horrific campaign around in the most dramatic of fashions.
Once Ajax found the net for a second time, silence descended over the home crowd. Not even the vocal non-stop support of the Union Bears could rally their team now. They had to be content with cheering the odd challenge or substitution in a drab second half.
Some fans were spotted on BT Sport’s coverage heading for the exits after just half an hour and as the match wore on it was the large visiting support who were making all the noise as Ajax cruised to victory. It’s clear Rangers fans are fed up with a perceived lack of effort from their side and a small chorus of boos greeted the full-time whistle once more.