Alfredo Morelos strikes twice as Rangers beat Rapid Vienna at Ibrox

Alfredo Morelos strikes twice as Rangers beat Rapid Vienna at Ibrox
Alfredo Morelos celebrates/ Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Rangers 3 - 1 Rapid Vienna

Alfredo Morelos' double ensured Rangers marked the return of group stage action to Ibrox with a 3-1 win over Rapid Vienna.

The old ground was packed to the rafters as Gers hosted their first European group clash since losing a Champions League showdown with Manchester United back in 2010.

And the Light Blues faithful got the result they were longing for as their Colombian hitman struck twice as well as winning the penalty which James Tavernier tucked home to put them on the verge of a deserved win.

Steven Gerrard's team had fought back to claim an impressive 2-2 draw in their campaign opener with Villarreal and had to battle back again after Veton Berisha had put the Austrians ahead two minutes before half-time.

But having extended their unbeaten run in European contests to 10 under the former Liverpool skipper, Rangers now look in great shape to qualify for the knock-out rounds after moving to the top of Group G with four points.

Left-back Borna Barisic and frontman Kyle Lafferty paid the price for their lacklustre display in Sunday's shock defeat at Livingston as Jon Flanagan and Ryan Kent came in to the side.

And the raucous atmosphere was all the encouragement Gers needed to chase after their opponents with a hunger.

Yet for all the energy Gerrard's team showed they could have done with taking a bit more care in the final third.

It took 22 minutes for the first chance to come but it fell for the visitors as Andrija Pavlovic glanced wide from a perfect Marvin Potzmann delivery.

Rapid defender Mateo Barac was forced off soon after a collision with Morelos left him with blood pouring from a nasty head wound.

It had been a fairly tense opening 43 minutes with chances at a premium - only for the game to burst into life in the final moments before the break.

First Rapid silenced the home faithful with the opener, although they were lucky it stood.

Mert Muldur's ball down the left flank was turned forward by Thomas Murg for Andrei Ivan, who was at least two yards offside. The flag failed to go up and Rapid raced on.

The ball was cut back for Pavlovic but while Lassana Coulibaly denied the Croatian a strike at goal he sent it to Berisha, who slotted home from close range.

But having demonstrated their resolve in Spain last time out, the Light Blues again responded with real belief as they hit back immediately.

Kent found Tavernier in space on the right and the skipper's low cross was on the money for Morelos to slide home.

The roof almost came off Ibrox on 67 minutes as Tavernier found Ovie Ejaria drifting into the box. The on-loan Liverpool youngster made good contact with his header but Rapid keeper Richard Strebinger pulled off a stunning one-handed stop to leave the home support holding their heads.

But arms were reaching for the sky with five to go as Morelos won his side a penalty after racing onto a sublime Ejaria ball.

Mario Sonnleitner was the guilty party after diving in and he was made to pay as Tavernier fired his spot-kick into the top corner.

Rapid pushed up looking to salvage a draw but they left themselves exposed and Daniel Candeias took advantage, releasing Morelos to tuck home the third with an audacious back-heel.

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