UEFA Youth League

 Young Boys 3 Rangers 3

Rangers Under 19’s made their debut in the UEFA Youth League on Thursday as a precursor to first team action later the same day. A thrilling draw was the outcome at the Wyler Sportspark in Bern, Rangers will be disappointed to lose a two goal lead but over the ninety minutes a draw was probably the fairest result.

Rangers had an early chance in the third minute from a free-kick on the edge of the box and left of centre, Kai Kennedy beat the defensive wall but Lars Elcher save comfortably low to his left. The Ibrox youngsters suffered a blow on ten minutes when captain and one of the over age players Lewis Mayo picked up an injury and was replaced by Ben Williamson.

They didn’t allow the setback to affect them and took the lead within two minutes, Kai Kennedy in possession on the left  side of the box delayed his pass to allow Ciaran Dickson to hit the byline, from his cross to the far post Dapo Mebude’s header was blocked by the legs of Lars Elcher but Nathan Patterson followed up to slam the ball into the net. Just after the quarter hour mark the ball broke for Benjamin Kabeya and his twenty five yarder beat Lewis Budinauckas high to his right but clipped the junction of bar and post.

Five minutes later Nico Maier broke through the centre of Rangers defence and deep into the penalty area with Lewis Budinauckas coming from his line to make a fine block. Rangers response saw Kai Kennedy go past a defender and to the left hand byline where he cut the ball back to Ciaran Dickon whose shot was saved by Lars Elcher at his near post.

The home side threatened just before the half hour when Joel Ris moved the ball forward to the impressive Nico Maier and his shot from the edge of the box forced Lewis Budinauckas to tip over. Young Boys had another chance before the break with Lewin Blum attacking the right side of the box and when the ball broke for Samuel Ballet, Lewis Budinauckas blocked the shot with a foot at his near post.

Half-Time:- Young Boys 0 Rangers 1

The sides were level before the second half reached the fifth minute, Samuel Ballet in possession outside the left side of the penalty area laid the ball back to Samuel Kasongo on the angle and he cut inside before firing a shot into the keeper’s top right hand corner. Within four minutes Rangers had restored their lead, Kai Kennedy worked a short corner on the left by exchanging passes with Dapo Mebude and from his centre Danny Finlayson poked the ball into the far corner.

A similar period had elapsed when Rangers increased their lead with a stunning strike, Kai Kennedy won the ball inside Young Boys half and laid it back to Ben Williamson, from his pass forward Ciaran Dickson took a touch before giving Lars Elcher no chance from around twenty-five yards. 

With the game now inside the final twenty minutes Samuel Ballet passed to Gabriele De Donno on the right, his ball into the box broke to Nico Maier on the edge of the six yard box but he scooped his shot wide of the far post. Samuel Ballet was again the provider a minute later teeing up Breston Malula but Lewis Budinauckas comfortably saved the shot from distance.

Within a couple of minutes of coming on Mischa Eberhard made an impact racing into the left side of the box on a through ball and shooting across Lewis Budinauckas and into the far corner. The home side were now looking for the equaliser and when Breston Malula played Nico Maier into the left side of the box Lewis Budinackas was forced to save at the near post.

Rangers were still a threat and when Dapo Mebude and James Maxwell combined on the left to carve out a shooting chance for Ben Williamson the midfielder shot wide of the far post. Back to the other end and when the ball broke to Jonathan De Donno on the edge of the box a deflection took it over. From the resultant corner on the left Breston Malula rose to power a header against Rangers crossbar.

Just when it looked like Rangers had done enough and the clock ticking deep into injury time a long through from the right was flicked on at the near post and converted at close range by Gabriele De Donno.

Rangers should get over the disappointment for the return tie at Firhill on 23rd October with the slight advantage of three away goals. Unfortunately I will be travelling to the Europa League game in Porto and won’t make the game.

Full Time:- Young Boys 3 Rangers 3

Young Boys:- Lars Elcher; Lewin Blum (Gabriele De Donno 61 mins), Sadin Crnovsanin, Simon Geiger, Joel Bischsel; Benjamin Kabeya, Breston Malula; Joel Ris ( Jonathan De Donno 61 mins), Nico Maier, Samuel Kasongo (Mischa Eberhard (73 mins); Samuel Ballet (Marc Jenni 90 mins)

Not Used:- Leandro Zbinden (Gk), Aurele Amenda, Fabiano Pereira.

Rangers:- Lewis Budinauckas; Nathan Patterson (Zac Butterworth 88 mins), Danny Finlayson, Rhys Breen, James Maxwell; Murray Miller, Lewis Mayo (Ben Williamson 10 mins); Ciaran Dickson; Dapo Mebude, Nathan Young-Coombes (Arron Lyall 88 mins), Kai Kennedy.

Not Used:- Jay Hogarth (Gk), Kyle McClelland, Chris McKee, Kane Ritchie-Hosler.

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