Legia draw with Rangers but hopes still high for Europa League

Roared on by a capacity crowd in Warsaw, Legia came close to breaking the deadlock on several occasions only to be denied through a combination of last ditch defending and poor finishing. Piotr Nowak/PAP

Polish champions Legia Warszawa stand ninety minutes from the group stages of the Europa League after earning a nil-nil draw last night against Scottish giants Rangers.

Roared on by a capacity crowd in Warsaw, Legia came close to breaking the deadlock on several occasions only to be denied through a combination of last ditch defending and poor finishing.

 Arguably, however, the clearest chance of the night fell to Rangers with an Alfredo Morelos second-half header drifting just wide of the goal.

The clearest chance of the night fell to Rangers and Alfredo Morelos in the second-half.Piotr Nowak/PAP

 “The one big chance of the night came to us and unfortunately we couldn’t take it,” commented Rangers manager Steven Gerrard after the match, “but there’s a lot of things about the game that we’re very pleased about and I thought we stuck together well in a very hostile atmosphere.”

 The goalless draw saw Legia set a new Polish record for the number of minutes without losing a goal.

But if action was lacking on the pitch, in the stands the Polish Army Stadium thundered to the sound of 30,000 fans with even the official Rangers website moved to comment on the “simply extraordinary” levels of noise.

After the match Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said that despite missing their chance in the second half “there’s a lot of things about the game that we’re very pleased about and I thought we stuck together well in a very hostile atmosphere.”Piotr Nowak/PAP

Earlier fears of crowd trouble, however, failed to materialize, despite Legia’s followers taunting the 1,000 travelling fans by displaying a stolen Rangers flag. Throughout the day, police maintained a visible presence in central Warsaw, quickly clamping down on any perceived threatening behaviour.

Prior to the match, Rangers fans had been warned about the risks of drinking in the centre, with the majority opting to instead convene in a hastily constructed ‘Fan Zone’. 

If nothing else, it provided light relief on a night defined by its partisan, white-hot atmosphere.

Despite the lack of action on the pitch, in the stands the Polish Army Stadium thundered to the sound of 30,000 fans with even the official Rangers website moved to comment on the “simply extraordinary” levels of noise.Alex Webber/TFN

Speaking after the game, ex-England captain Gerrard urged Rangers fans to get Ibrox “jumping and rocking” for the second leg, demanding that the atmosphere “changes full circle to get Rangers over the line”.  

Whilst Legia’s players will look back on the numerous half-chances that they failed to capitalize on, the tie remains very much alive with next week’s second leg perfectly balanced.