Rangers reach Europa League final after overcoming RB Leipzig 3-1 to set up Eintracht Frankfurt showdown

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side completed an epic comeback against the big-spending Germans to book their spot in the final in Seville on May 18.

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“Make Us Dream”.

That was the message Rangers fans reiterated to Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players ahead of their Europa League semi-final second leg against RB Leipzig.

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Trailing 1-0 to the big-spending Germans after their first leg defeat inside the Red Bull Arena last Thursday, the Ibrox club were aiming to repeat their 2008 run to the UEFA Cup final.

John Lundstram runs off to celebrate after scoring the goal that took Rangers to the Europa League final. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

With so much at stake, emotions were at an all-time high pre-match following the sudden death of the Gers’ legendary kitman Jimmy Bell earlier this week.

Prior to the match, the Scottish champions paid their respects to long-serving Bell, who passed away at the age of 69 on Tuesday, by laying wreaths outside Ibrox.

An impeccably observed minute’s silence in Bell’s honour also took place before kick-off.

Van Bronckhorst made three changes to his side that were held to a 1-1 draw against Old Firm rivals Celtic at the weekend, with Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara and Scott Wright drafted into the starting line-up.

Scott Arfield, Steven Davis and Fashion Sakala dropped to the bench, while Aaron Ramsey was fit enough to make the bench, but striker Kemar Roofe was, once again, left out of the matchday squad.

RB Leipzig arrived in Glasgow on the back of a disappointing 3-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Monday night but Domenico Tedesco’s side knew victory would clinch their place in the Seville final on May 18.

For the majority of last week’s first leg in East Germany, a goalless draw appeared on the cards following a strong defensive display from the Gers.

Their resistance was eventually broken in the 85th minute by Angelino’s volley but despite struggling to create much of note in attack, the Light Blues knew the tie was still firmly in the balance.

A raucous atmosphere inside the capacity stadium greeted both sets of players and the current German Cup holders, who had scored in all of their European games this season, looked shell-shocked in the early stages as Rangers began the match aggressively with intent.

Leipzig, who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League just two years ago, enjoyed 70% possession during the first leg but they were struggling to keep hold of the ball for any length of time.

The opening goal arrived after 18 minutes and it went the way of the home side as Kamara shrugged off the attention of two visiting players to release Ryan Kent down the left wing.

His powerful drive across the goal was met by the onrushing James Tavernier who steered home his seventh goal in the competition, sensationally making the right-back top scorer in the Europa League this season.

Rangers' John Lundstram celebrates making it 3-1 over RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-final second leg at Ibrox Stadium. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The roof came off Ibrox for a second time just six minutes later when Scott Wright’s lay-off just outside the box was expertly guided low into the bottom corner of the net by Kamara on his ‘weaker’ left foot.

The visitors almost fell further behind on the half hour mark as Tavernier’s headed knock-down found Joe Aribo but the Nigerian scuffed his effort over the bar from close range.

Rangers were creating chances to put the game to bed but Willi Orban’s dangerous header at the back post from a free-kick flew narrowly wide but served as a warning shot to the hosts.

Moments before half-time, Angelino’s free-kick from a promising position caught Joe Aribo flush in the face and after recieving treatment he was led off the pitch to be replaced by Fashion Sakala.

Leipzig had offered little until the 70th minute when Konrad Laimer cut the Rangers defence open but was denied by a brilliant save from Allan McGregor, who was quick off his goalline.

Rangers' Glen Kamara (centre) kisses the black armband in memory of kitman Jimmy Bell, who passed away suddenly this week, after scoring to make it 2-0 over RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-final second leg at Ibrox. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

McGregor was helpless to prevent the visitors from levelling the tie 60 seconds later when star striker Christopher Nkunku converted his 32nd goal of the campaign fizzing a volley into the net from Angelino’s cross.

Suddenly, Rangers seemed rattled. They had to refocus and stem the tide of Leipzig attacks.

Step up John Lundtsram. The defensive midfielder found himself in the right time to rifle home from a few yards out after Kent’s delivery from the byline was headed off the line by Josko Gvardiol with ten minutes left to play.

The noise inside the ground was deafining as Gvardiol headed over in the final minutes.

Leipzig were pressing forward in search of a much-needed response, pinning Rangers back deep in their own half.

The Germans were almost caught out in injury time when substitute Sakala found himself one-on-one with the keeper but his effort was blocked by Hungarian No.1 Peter Gulacsi.

The shreak of Portuguese referee Artur Dias’ full-time whistle was drowned out by huge roars of celebration as Rangers capped off a momentous night.

This was an astonishing achievement as tearful fans finally started to let the result sink in.

Further German opposition in the shape of Eintracht Frankfurt will provide the final hurdle for Rangers to overcome after they defeated Premier League side West Ham United 1-0 in the other last four clash.

Only Scot Symon (1961 and 1967), Willie Waddell (1972) and Walter Smith (2008) have led Rangers to European finals. Now Giovanni van Bronckhorst will get his opportunity to achieve greatness in Spain in just under two week’s time.