Alfredo Morelos breaks deadlock for Rangers to overcome Porto | Football


A match that meandered for so long ended in rousing fashion for Rangers. As they increased the tempo against Porto, there was no reply. There was not, either, to a quite terrific Alfredo Morelos goal and a deflected strike from Steven Davis. If not the case already, there is now considerable cause to believe Steven Gerrard can lead Rangers into the knockout phase. This felt like the most significant victory of his 17-month tenure.

“We have beaten a good team and beaten them comfortably,” he said. “My players deserve a lot of credit. We have dominated three halves of two games against Porto.”

Rangers’ showing in the 1-1 draw in Portugal a fortnight ago was arguably their finest in Europe under Gerrard. The visitors were unfortunate to claim just a point.

The early stages rather suggested Porto had not taken kindly to being outplayed for long spells on their own patch. Only a despairing goalline clearance from Glen Kamara prevented Pepe from flicking Porto ahead inside eight minutes. The panic-stricken Rangers defence could not have complained had the Portuguese enjoyed a scoring advantage.

Porto, not short in physicality, looked mildly flustered when Ryan Kent was in possession but the former Liverpool winger lacked the support to build on moments of promise. After Porto conceded possession to Ryan Jack, 30 yards from their own goal, Kent failed to find Morelos, who appeared to have run offside anyway. This moment rather summed up Rangers’ ragged approach.

Pepe’s enforced removal within five minutes of the restart supplied evidence of Porto’s aspirations. Luis Díaz, an attacking midfielder, replaced the stricken centre-back. Such positivity, though, could not raise the level of a strangely flat 15 minutes to begin the second period. Inspiration – from somewhere, someone – was desperately required.

Kent did his best to further liven up proceedings with a snapshot from the edge of the area that had Agustín Marchesín scrambling to make a save.

It was surely of frustration to Gerrard that Morelos, the scorer of 20 goals this season, had not been offered an adequate sight of goal. Gerrard replaced Brandon Barker – a surprise selection and ultimately an ineffectual one – with Scott Arfield in seeking to boost potency.

Instead, a likely source fired Rangers ahead. Jack clipped the ball infield to Morelos, who took a deft controlling touch before lashing an angled shot past Marchesín. The precision of the finish was worthy of high praise and Ibrox entered into wild celebration.

There is scepticism in some quarters regarding what value the Colombian will command when departing Glasgow. Moments like this add to his price tag.

“The touch and the finish were stunning,” Gerrard said. “That’s the reason we talk about Alfredo every two or three days. We will never run out of things to say about him; he keeps providing moments.”

Rangers were not content to see out a narrow victory. Davis, again excellent in midfield, watched his 18-yard drive fly beyond Porto’s goalkeeper via Iván Marcano. Morelos was the architect, demonstrating the growing maturity in his play.


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