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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Dmitry Mukhametkulov Rangers' head coach Steven Gerrard, right, Rangers' Scott Arfield, centre, Ufa's Dmitri Zhivoglyadov react during the Europa League play-off round.
# close shave
Steven Gerrard's 9-man Rangers scrape through to the Europa League group stage
Alfredo Morales and Jon Flanagan saw red as Ovie Ejaria’s first-half goal ensured Rangers’ qualification for the Europa League group stage.

RANGERS SURVIVED RED cards in either half of a 1-1 second-leg draw with Ufa to scrape a place in the Europa League group stage with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Alfredo Morelos was shown a second yellow card in the 38th minute and two bookable offences saw Jon Flanagan dismissed with a quarter of the match remaining, but Steven Gerrard’s men held on despite Ufa twice hitting the post and having a goal disallowed in second-half stoppage time.

Having dominated the first leg but taken a slender 1-0 lead into the return, any nerves Rangers felt were soothed after nine minutes when a fluffed clearance fell to Ovie Ejaria and he hooked the ball beyond Ufa goalkeeper Aleksandr Belenov.

Rangers absorbed spells of pressure and Ejaria side-footed wide from the edge of the box after a crisp passing move, before Ufa levelled in the 32nd minute when Dmitri Sysuev raced in behind the visitors’ defence and stroked a cool finish home.

It got worse for Rangers when Morelos was shown two yellow cards in quick succession late in the first half, the Colombian respectively cautioned and then dismissed for kicking the ball away and dissent.

Ufa were undone early in the second half when Ryan Kent’s mazy dribble took him all the way into the box, but his attempt was saved one-handed by the diving Belenov.

Substitute Ivan Oblyakov gave Rangers a scare when his shot came back off the upright with McGregor beaten, and Flanagan set up a tense finale by getting sent off for leading with his elbow when challenging for a high ball.

Jimmy Tabidze headed onto the post as Ufa probed for a late winner and he put the ball in the net during stoppage time, but the referee ruled the goal out for an infringement as Rangers gritted their teeth in a hostile atmosphere to keep their European campaign alive.

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