Villarreal 2-2 Rangers: Mixed fortunes for Chukwueze and Sadiq in Europa League

Umar Sadiq sat out for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers while former FIFA Under-17 World Cup winner, Samuel Chukwueze impressed in the last 10 minutes of his Europa League debut as Villarreal were held 2-2 in Spain. Chukwuweze, playing his first ever competitive game for the La Liga side came on on 79 minutes but did enough to earn pass marks in a team that had former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla as the matchman.

Kyle Lafferty’s first ever European goal handed Rangers a hugely impressive 2-2 draw in their Europa League opener with Villarreal. Steven Gerrard’s team were hoping to become the first Ibrox side to triumph away from home against Spanish opposition as they made their group-stage return after eight years in the UEFA wilderness. They did not quite manage that but did deliver a display of grit and endeavour to kick-off their Group G campaign with a precious point at El Madrigal.

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Carlos Bacca and Gerard Moreno twice had LaLiga side Villarreal ahead but the Light Blues refused to buckle, with Scott Arfield netting ahead of Lafferty’s maiden goal in continental club competition. Rangers twice battled back from behind to claim an impressive 2-2 Europa League draw at Villarreal.

Carlos Bacca put the LaLiga side in front with a stunning strike after 45 seconds, although they were made to regret missed chances as Scott Arfield found his first Rangers goal midway through the second half. Parity did not last two minutes as Villarreal substitute Gerard Moreno got in on the act, but it was Steven Gerrard celebrating 14 minutes from time when Kyle Lafferty crowned a brilliant team move.

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Bacca got a touch fortunate when his attempted flick from Pablo Fornals’ pass bounced back to him off Joe Worrall but the Colombia striker’s sumptuous finish from 25 yards with the outside of his foot was out of the top drawer. Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor was caught off his line for the opener but kept out a rasping Santi Cazorla drive to ensure Villarreal’s advantage remained slim at the break.Related image

The response was instant as Moreno darted inside Borna Barisic to thrash in at McGregor’s near post. Barisic atoned for his role in that goal by racing on to Glenn Middleton’s throughball – the highlight of an excellent cameo from the teenager – to leave Lafferty with a simple finish from his first-time cross. Arfield, Moreno and Bacca all spurned fine chances to snatch the win in a frantic finale.