Rangers’ Europa League run came to an end at the last-16 stage as a 1-0 second-leg defeat to Bayer Leverkusen saw them lose 4-1 on aggregate.
There had been speculation in the lead up to the match that Kai Havertz could be sold to Chelsea before the fixture, or that the young midfielder could refuse to play ahead of his much rumoured big money move to the Premier League, but the 21-year-old featured heavily as Leverkusen advanced without much trouble.
Havertz struck the crossbar in the first half with a left-footed snap shot, also putting a shot wide of the post after being played in behind the Rangers defence. It was Moussa Diaby who scored the only goal of the game, though, firing high into the net after getting a run on James Tavernier.
Defeat at the BayArena brings to an end a European run which saw Rangers earn impressive results against Porto, Feyenoord and Braga, with Bayer Leverkusen now set to face Antonio Conte’s Inter in next week’s quarter finals.
Bayer Leverkusen could be Europa League dark horses. For most, Inter and Manchester United look to be the favourites to go all the way in this season’s Europa League. However, this performance showed Bayer Leverkusen cannot be discounted. The Bundesliga side did the real damage in the first leg at Ibrox, barely getting out of second gear as they got the job done in the second leg. The likes of Diaby, Havertz, Charles Aranguiz, Jonathan Tah and Edmond Tapsoba give them real quality.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen): It was his goal that earned Bayer Leverkusen the win on the night, lashing home a finish after being played in behind and losing Tavernier with a right to left movement, and the 21-year-old winger was impressive throughout. The eye is naturally drawn to Havertz in this Leverkusen side, but Diaby is also another exceptional young player at the BayArena club at this moment in time.
Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky 6, Bender 7, Bender 7, Tapsoba 8, Diaby 8, Aranguiz 7, Sinkgraven 6, Palacios 6, Wirtz 6, Havertz 7, Volland 5. Subs - Dragovic 5, Tah 4, Baumgartlinger 5, Bailley 5, Baumgartlinger 5.
Rangers: McGregor 7, Tavernier 4, Goldson 7, Helander 8, Barisic 6, Jack 5, Davis 5, Aribo 6, Kent 5, Barker 4, Morelos 4. Subs - Arfield 5, Jones 5, Stewart 5, Patterson 5.
17’ Off the top of the bar! What a goal that would have been for Havertz! The ball was played into the area, Volland knocked it down for his teammate and Havertz smashed a strike off the top of the Rangers crossbar!
23’ HAVERTZ... puts it wide! That should have been the opener for Bayer Leverkusen, with Havertz played in behind. But the German international puts his low shot just wide of the post. That was close.
51’ GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Rangers: There's the breakthrough for Bayer Leverkusen on the night and that goal all but ensures the Bundesliga side will be the ones in the quarter final! The ball was played over the top for Diaby and the winger finished high into the roof of the net!
55’ Big save from McGregor! Havertz was clean through and should have found the back of the Rangers net, but McGregor did well to make the save with his feet. That should have been 2-0.
74’ Off the line! That's the closest Rangers have come to finding the back of the net. Barisic's deep freekick to the back post was a good one, Goldson headed on target, but Tapsoba clears off the line!
83’ Good chance for Stewart! Hagi forced the mistake from Hradecky, with the ball falling to Stewart inside the area, but the Rangers forward could only send his shot wide of the far post.
Rangers lost both legs of a two-legged tie in a major European competition for the first time since 1997-98 (UEFA Cup first round against Strasbourg).