Tuesday, August 9, 2022

McCoist hails ´wonderful´ McGregor as records fall to hero Rangers goalkeeper

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 17 Mar 2022

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Allan McGregor stacked up the goalkeeping records as Rangers reached a European quarter-final for the first time since their run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

The 40-year-old made 11 saves to limit Red Star Belgrade to a 2-1 win in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, giving Rangers a 4-2 aggregate victory.

That was three more saves than any other goalkeeper had managed in a Europa League game this season – Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray made eight against Marseille – and the most by a Rangers goalkeeper since the competition was launched in 2009-10, replacing the UEFA Cup.

McGregor’s saves total was the highest ever by a goalkeeper aged 40 or above in the Europa League, Opta said. Only Tim Howard, who made 12 saves for Everton against Wolfsburg in 2014, has ever made more stops in a game for a British club in the competition.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist said of McGregor: “He’s been fantastic over these two games.

“Some of these saves he’s produced, you’d think he’s 20 years of age again. He’s been wonderful. What a servant to the football club.”

It was the first time since David de Gea made 10 stops for Manchester United against Roma on May 6 last year that any goalkeeper had reached double figures in saves in a Europa League match.

McGregor was making his 50th appearance in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, becoming the first Rangers player to reach that landmark with the club.

The last player to make more saves in a Europa League game was Karl-Johan Johnsson of FC Copenhagen in their 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United in August 2020.

McGregor, who missed out on appearing in the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy match through injury, earned praise from current Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

“At moments he needs to be there, he is there. I’m really happy with his performances. Even at his age he’s really important for us,” Van Bronckhorst told BT Sport.

Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round and are beginning to cut a swathe through a strong field of clubs, just as they did on their UEFA Cup run 14 years ago.

Mirko Ivanic gave Red Star an early lead on Thursday and they pushed for more, but Ryan Kent’s goal against the run of play in the 56th minute put the Scottish visitors back in control.

A late penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star victory on the night, but it was Rangers who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Van Bronckhorst added: “Our belief is only getting stronger. There are big teams left in the draw, so we have to wait and see tomorrow [when the draw takes place].

“The opponent will be stronger with each round. The result against Dortmund is one that the whole of Europe thinks is a great achievement. We’re going to enjoy the night, and then prepare for Dundee on Sunday.”

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