It just wasn’t meant to be for Rangers.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players saw their Europa League dream crumble in an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.
A 1-1 draw after 120 minutes set up a nail-biting shootout which saw the nerveless Bundesliga side rattle home five unstoppable penalties while Aaron Ramsey ‘s effort was saved by Kevin Trapp.
Reaction flooded in post-match with pundits delivering their verdicts on a tension-soaked final.
Here’s what they had to say.
“The boys will be gutted, I feel for them as they put so much into the game.
“It wasn’t a great first half in terms of the quality of football but that may be down to both teams doing very well without the ball. What became clear very early on is that Frankfurt are a very good side.
“Scott Wright turned defenders a couple of times and looked very positive. Rangers grew into the game as I don’t think they had a very good start. Ryan Jack should have at least hit the target at the end of the first half.
“It was a poor goal to lose but Calvin Bassey was immense, his powers of recovery were colossal.
“Allan McGregor is one of the best at saving penalties and my money was on him, sadly it just wasn’t to be.”
“It was always going to be important to keep a hold of the ball in those boiling conditions. Ryan Kent was the main threat for Rangers and they needed to get the ball to him more.
“Rangers needed to keep the ball moving from side to side and try to work an overload. There was definite contact when Goldson clipped Borre and the equaliser came from a cross which he should have read and prevented from clearing at the front post.
“At the end the players were dead on their feet and penalties are always a horrible way to lose any game. It’s a tough one to take.”
“Rangers should be proud, they’ve been brilliant over this journey but fell just short.
“It was a positive that Rangers came in at half-time level and they were well in the game having not conceded. They had a lot to do in the second-half as the best chances of the first half fell to Frankfurt which required a couple of big saves from Allan McGregor.
“Some of that was down to Rangers’ own undoing due to bad decision making and that allowed Frankfurt’s best players to impose themselves on the game. Rangers needed to have more freedom in their play and I believed they could only get better in the second-half. Aaron Ramsey could bring something to the game and affect it in a positive way and I thought he would have had something to offer.
“It was a game for someone to go and make themselves a hero and Tavernier had a wonderful chance to win it at the end of extra-time but when it comes to penalty kicks Rangers had one of the best.
“He goes with instinct and I know that from taking kicks at him in training. It says everything about the quality of the penalties from Frankfurt that he couldn’t get near them.”
“It was a dodgy first 15 minutes and then Rangers started to get a hold of the ball and started to become the better side in what was a strong finish from Rangers in the first-half. That possession for Rangers didn’t translate much in terms of chances at goal.
“They didn’t start this second-half well at all and the penalty shout was a major wake up call. It was a sloppy tackle from Connor Goldson. In my book, it was a penalty and Rangers got away with one.
“Rangers started to look dull in attack but scored an opportunist goal which nobody saw coming and Aribo was cool as you like by slotting the ball into the corner against the run of play.I
“It was bad defensively play by Goldson at equaliser as he shouldn’t have allowed the ball to cross the face of goal. It’s the basics which he failed to do. Two sets of very tired players and decided in a cruel way through penalty kicks.”
“From the start you could see the way the game might pan out. Rangers were sitting in, looking to try and hit on the break but they had no one offering in behind. Ryan Kent and Scott Wright were starting too deep and Joe Aribo was never going to run in behind.
“The passing had to be very accurate, it was about being patient and picking passes with a bit of quality.
Rangers had a little period where they were struggling. Then the fans raised the volume.
“They felt that on the pitch. Rangers started closing players down, blocking clearances, winning corners. James Tavernier’s quality hadn’t been there, it’s not like him. But that’s when you need the fans, when you’re having a wee wobble.
“Rangers didn’t start the second-half well but the goal came at a brilliant time and it was great composure by Aribo to take advantage of a defensive slip but the equaliser was about Goldson not preventing the cross from coming past the front post.
“In the end it came down to luck and nobody let anyone down.”