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Progres Nierderkorn isn’t a name that would have been very familiar to many Rangers fans prior to their Europa League Qualifier fixture, but now it’s a name they’ll never forget.
The 4th biggest team in Luxembourg (a country with a smaller population than Glasgow’s) fell to a 1-0 loss in the first leg at Ibrox on June 29th.
A week later, it was Rangers who lost – a 2-0 defeat in Luxembourg knocking them out of any potential European run and being deemed as possibly the worst loss in the history of Rangers football club.
“It’s the worst loss in my managerial career” said boss Pedro Caixinha after the game. It’s hard to argue with that – his team took an advantage into a game against an opponent that one would think on-paper they should beat without issue, and the 2-1 aggregate loss is a setback that will have season-long implications.
It’s as bad of start as possible to Caixinha’s reign at Ibrox, and there are already murmurs his position may be at risk.
But is it truly the worst defeat to have befallen Rangers? We have a look at some other games that vie for the title of Rangers worst defeat:
Celtic 5 -1 Rangers (Scottish premier League, 10th September 2016)
After 4 years apart, Rangers finally found themselves back where they wanted to be: The Scottish Premier League in an Old Firm Derby.
Following their rise from the lower echelons of Scottish football, this day should have been one of celebration; the day that finally put Rangers back on the map.
Their first league meeting with Celtic in 4 years, however, was a total disaster. After a strong start to the season, September 2016 still seen them in contention with Brendan Rodgers Celtic for top spot. A win would have lifted Rangers above Celtic in the table… as it transpired, not only would this game put Celtic on top, but they would not leave that perch for the rest of the season.
20-year-old striker Moussa Dembele’s performance on the day will become the stuff of legend – scoring a hat-trick and becoming the first player in 50 years to score an old-firm treble. His goals, coupled with finishes from Scott Sinclair and Stuart Armstrong, left Rangers embarrassed.
New defender Phillippe Senderos got sent off in the later part of the game and assistant manager David Weir joined him as he was sent to the stands, only adding to what was a harrowing defeat for that only highlighted the disparity between the two Glasgow clubs.
The result was mirrored in the reverse fixture at Ibrox, Celtic recording their biggest ever win at the ground, but somehow that first fixture still stands out as a worse defeat.
Stirling Albion 1 – 0 Rangers (Scottish Third Division, October 2012)
A particularly low-ebb came for Rangers Football Club in the October of 2012. After a Summer that had seen the club go into administration and drop to the fourth tier of Scottish football, the side had to get off to a good start.
They had performed well at home in the opening matches of the season, but needed to secure an elusive first away win to reach the summit of the Third Division, and bring at least some cheer back to blue half of Glasgow.
An opportunity seemed to present itself when they were pitted against Stirling Albion, who were hoisting up the rest of the league in last place at the time. They had lost their previous 5 home games, and nothing but a win seemed would be possible, right?
Wrong. Rangers started poorly, and following some woeful defending, the ball was bundled home in the eight minute of the match. The rest of the game was spent trying to mount a response and find a reply, but as it were to happen, no luck.
This game highlighted Rangers woes and can be considered one of the worst defeats in the club’s history.
Rangers 1 – 4 Unirea Urziceni (Champions’ League Group Stage, October 20th 2009)
To include this game might seem peculiar seeing as it took place in the 2009/10 Champions’ League group stages – a position a club needs a certain amount of success to get too – but the way in which it occurred makes it liable for this list.
When the then Romanian Champions Unirea Urziceni made their way to Ibrox, it was presumed it would not only be a win, but an easy one. So for them to make the trip to Glasgow and hammer Rangers 4-1 on the world stage, it hit hard.
A humiliating defeat that really was the icing on the cake of a terrible group stage performance that seen them come out with just 2 points, and at the foot of the table. At the time, the game was described as one of the worst results in Ranger’s history.
Eintracht Frankfurt 6 – 1 Rangers/Rangers 3 – Eintracht Frankfurt 6 (April 18th/ 1959/60 European Cup Semi-Final)
Suffering one heavy defeat in Europe is hard to take, but two across a tie is a nightmare.
Beating Anderlecht, Red Star Bratislava and Sparta Rotterdam on the way to the European cup semi-final, the successful Rangers team of the early sixties was really beginning to take shape around the time of this fixture.
The Scottish side were pretty much doomed after losing the first leg 6-1, yet 70, 000 fans still made the trip to Ibrox for the second leg. Surely hoping for a miraculous comeback, their dreams were dashed when Frankfurt continued their form from the first leg and scored 6 once more.
The games ended Rangers 4, Eintracht Frankfurt 12 on aggregate, and goes down as one (or two) of Rangers heaviest defeats.
Rangers 2 – 10 Airdrieonians (Friendly, 6th February 1886)
When looking at Rangers worst defeats, it’s hard to ignore their actual worst defeat. In the February of 1886, 131 years ago, Rangers fell to their actual biggest loss – in a friendly against Airdrieonians.
The 8 goal loss at Ibrox came only 3 years after Rangers biggest victory (in number) against Whitehill, where they recorded a 14-2 win.
Worse than a Europa League qualifier exit against Progres Nierderkorn? Probably not, to be honest.