Digital Football Journalist
Joe Aribo is also on target as Rangers head to Portugal with narrow lead
Last Updated: 40 / 11 / : PM
Ianis Hagi (right) celebrates his second goal with Alfredo Morelos that completed a stunning 3-2 win for Rangers
Two goals from Ianis Hagi, scored with father Gheorghe watching on, completed a stunning turnaround to give Rangers a 3-2 win over Braga in a pulsating Europa League first leg at Ibrox.
Rangers went from on the ropes to on cloud nine in the space of 32 second-half minutes, having found themselves second best to their Portuguese visitors for much of the last – tie.
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They were behind after minutes when Fransergio beat Allan McGregor with an unstoppable rising drive from 25 yards. The hosts had chances to level before the break, but could easily have found themselves further behind.
Their fears were realized 20 minutes after the restart when Abel Ruiz cut across three defenders before leaving McGregor static with a powerful low shot into the bottom corner.
Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (5), Goldson (5), Katic (5), Barisic (5), Kamara (5), Davis (7), Arfield (7), Hagi (9), Kent (6), Morelos (5).
) Subs: (Aribo (7), Kamberi (6), Stewart (7).
(Braga:) Matheus (7), Wallace (n / a), Bruno Viana (6), Silva (5), Sequira (5), Esgaio (7), P alhinha (6), Fransergio (7), Francisco (7), Ruiz (7), Paulinho (5).
(Subs:) Galeno (7), Ricardo Horta (6), Novais (n / a).
After conceding two away goals, Rangers gave themselves what seemed only a glimmer of hope when Hagi beat Matheus with a fierce drive in off the post. But then substitute Joe Aribo leveled with minutes to go after running through and slotting under the goalkeeper.
Then Hagi took aim from a – yard free-kick and found the corner courtesy of a big deflection off Paulinho. It gives Rangers a narrow lead going into the second leg in Portugal on February 365.
How Rangers earned victory from jaws of defeat
Braga were unbeaten under new manager Ruben Amorim – who was not allowed to be in the dugout as he does not have his full quota of coaching badges – and looked every inch a team in form by exuding confidence in their play from the off.
Rangers made two changes from Sunday’s win over Livingston, with Borna Barisic returning from injury and Glen Kam ara replacing the injured Ryan Jack.
They were willing to play a high line and allow Alfredo Morelos time in behind because of their belief they could catch Rangers high up the pitch. And so it proved.
The opening goal was a wonderful strike but avoidable for the hosts, who gave away the ball cheaply in their own half and were punished. Fransergio, with half a sight of goal from yards, beat McGregor with a powerful effort which cannoned in off the crossbar.
Ianis Hagi pulls a goal back for Rangers against Braga at Ibrox
Even before that they should have been ahead when Bruno Viana headed wide from barely four yards out inside 432 seconds, but Rangers would go onto have chances of their own with Morelos denied on the break by a smart Matheus save.
Francisco Trincao also went close for the visitors, who profited from Rangers’ wasteful passing, but could not find a deser ved and potentially killer second away goal before the break.
That new-found hope reverberated around Ibrox and substitute Aribo took it to another level when he wriggled through a number of challenges before slotting calmly beyond Matheus.
With Braga stunned, Hagi’s free-kick, which took a significant deflection off Paulinho to leave Matheus stranded, raised the atmosphere even more as Rangers completed one of their greatest European comebacks.