SPARTA PRAGUE 0-0 RANGERS: VISITORS GRAB POINT IN CZECH REPUBLIC AS GROUP C REMAINS ON KNIFE-EDGE

Rangers took a valuable UEFA Europa League point from Prague, having survived a difficult first half before getting into the game, as Sparta tired in the second period.
Rangers spent the first 45 minutes almost entirely on the back foot, with goalkeeper Jack Butland called into action on far more occasions than he would have hoped.
The Sparta forwards, in particular Qazim Laci and Veljko Birmancevic, will have been frustrated not to make an early breakthrough as they created chance after chance.
How to watch Sparta Prague v Rangers on TNT Sports & discovery+ - TV and live stream detailsHow to watch Sparta Prague v Rangers on TNT Sports & discovery+ - TV and live stream details
The home side came closest in the fifth minute when the Serbian forward Birmancevic waltzed through the Rangers defence to get in a shot which Butland could only parry into the path of Laci. The Albanian’s shot was straight back to his gloves, and Butland’s second save made it to safety.
Sparta spent the next 40 minutes mixing it up and attempting to come up with something special. All their creativity came to nothing, however, and Rangers went into the break still in the game and growing in confidence.
This confidence carried into the second period. The Glasgow side began to play with the ball in the air and on the deck, as Cyriel Dessers made a number of dangerous, darting runs down the right.
The Sparta ‘keeper, Peter Vindahl Jensen, was called into action for the first time early in the half from a long-range shot by John Lundstram as Rangers made it a much more even match, with Sparta tiring as their liveliest players were substituted.
Rangers came closest from substitute Danilo, who got onto a ball over the top and forced a save from Vindahl which rattled the crossbar.
In the end it will likely be the away side most satisfied at the scoreline.

TALKING POINT – NO-ONE’S OUT OF IT AT NIL-NIL

Rangers should take great confidence from the way they survived the first half and subsequently responded in the second. They did struggle to get into the game, but having absorbed a barrage of early pressure, knew the scoreline meant they were still competing. The second 45 minutes was much more of a contest, as Sparta tired and the away side grew in stature. With every minute they came closer and believed in themselves more. By the end they seemed convinced they could snatch it, but shouldn’t feel aggrieved that they didn’t.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – JACK BUTLAND

It was not all down to Butland, but had the Rangers keeper not stood up to the early Sparta onslaught, there would have been no foundation for Rangers to build on. His four saves in the first half weren’t just impressive they were necessary, and he earned more of a rest after the break.

PLAYER RATINGS

SPARTA: Vindahl 7; Preciado 5, Kairinen 5, Kuchta 6, Karabec 7, Birmancevic 7, Laci 7, Sorensen 6, Panak 6, Rynes 6, Vitik 7. Subs: Wiesner 5, Sadilek 6, Pesek 7, Olatunji 6
RANGERS: Butland 8, Tavernier 6, Goldson 5, Souttar 6, Davies 5, Lundstram 7, Raskin 6, Cantwell 6, Sima 7, Lammers 7, Dessers 7… Subs: Wright 6 Danilo 7

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

5′ SPARTA GO CLOSE! Butland makes two big saves, first from Birmancevic, who waltzed through the Rangers backline before taking the shot which Butland could only parry into the path of Laci. The ‘keeper was up again quickly to make the second save.
20′ SPARTA ALMOST MAKE THE BREAKTHROUGH. Laci lashes a hard, low volley just to the left of the post.

30′ LACI ALMOST SNEAKS IN AGAIN! The Albanian picks the pocket of Raskin, marches in and get another shot off which Butland does well to respond to and send to safety.

78′ GREAT SAVE FROM VINDAHL Lammers cuts in from the right, winds up, and lets fly a beauty that’s bending towards the net. The Sparta keeper is able to nudge it over the bar.

85′ DANILO RATTLES THE CROSSBAR Snaps at the ball over the top. Replay shows the keeper got a vital hand to it.

KEY STATS

  • This 0-0 was the first match between Rangers and Sparta that did not end with a win for the home side

    Rangers have now won just once in their last 13 away games in European competition. Their last victory was a 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund in February 2022

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