3 Rangers talking points as Clement fails to read the glaring warning signs punished by brutal Benfica blow

John Souttar and Nicolas Raskin of Rangers look dejected after the team's defeatJohn Souttar and Nicolas Raskin of Rangers look dejected after the team's defeat
John Souttar and Nicolas Raskin of Rangers look dejected after the team's defeat | Getty Images
Rangers exited the Europa League in heartbreaking fashion after a slender 1-0 defeat against Benfica at Ibrox.

It came down to the finest of margins but Rangers fell short in their quest to reach the Europa League quarter-finals as they succumbed to a narrow 1-0 last-16 second leg loss against Benfica.

The influential Rafa Silva popped up with crucial moment on 66 minutes to settle a gripping and cagey contest played out in the Glasgow drizzle and silence a boisterous Ibrox crowd.

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Rangers huffed and puffed throughout but struggled to seriously test visiting goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin. The lack of clear cut chances in front of their own supporters will have disappointed boss Philippe Clement and, not for the first time, the Light Blues were left to mull over the concession of another goal from a corner of their own.

The Govan outfit had given themselves a platform to build on following a 2-2 draw in Lisbon last week, but they never looked like threatening their Portuguese counterparts. The match appeared destined for another 30 minutes before Silva timed his run from the halfway line to perfection to race clean through one-on-one with Jack Butland before slotting low under the keeper.

That goal proved enough to send the Eagles soaring into Friday's last eight draw. For now, Rangers European journey is over. But there is no disgrace in the manner of this defeat. Their season is far from over. Here are 3 major talking points following Rangers Europa League exit...

Warning signs not heeded

Rangers forced a number of corner kicks and posed a threat to Benfica's backline. Clement pushed players forward to pack out a crowded penalty area but there were several warning signs when the visitors won the ball and launched a counter-attack. However, those were not heeded as the only goal of the game came from a corner and with Rangers left short at the back, Silva capitalised as he evaded the offside trap to race into the box and produce a composed low finish. The strike was initially ruled offside before a VAR review determined that he had stayed inside his own half.

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Souttar boosts Scotland credentials

The Rangers centre-back is enjoying a positive run of games in the XI and he did his national team credentials no harm ahead of this summer's European Championships. The former Hearts man read the game tremendously well and sparked the odd counter with his incisive range of passing. Souttar was named in Steve Clarke's squad for the upcoming friendlies with Northern Ireland and the Netherlands and on this viewing he will stake a strong claim for a starting berth as he looks to nail down his spot on the plane to Germany.

Butland suffers double blow

It was a day to forget for the English shot-stopper. Not only was he excluded from Gareth Southgate's England squad for the latest international window, he had no chance of preventing Silva's goal. Butland didn't have a great deal to do throughout the 90 minutes but was neat and tidy when called upon. His form between the sticks so far this season has been outstanding and it surely won't be long before he is back involved with the Three Lions.

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