28 min: Elliott nearly releases his erstwhile Fulham pal Carvalho down the middle, but McGregor reads the danger well and comes to the edge of his box to claim.
26 min: Tavernier once again ships possession cheaply, allowing Firmino to intercept and romp into the Rangers half. Firmino tries to release Nunez down the inside-left channel, but the pass is weak and Goldson is able to slide in and clear. He also catches Nunez above the ankle with his studs and … well, you’ve seen players sent packing for less. But neither referee nor VAR is interested. Nunez certainly felt it, though he’s back up again soon enough.
GOAL! Rangers 1-1 Liverpool (Firmino 24)
Tavernier gifts the ball to Fabinho when playing out from the back. Carvalho takes another whack. It’s deflected out for a corner. Tsimikas whips in from the right. Firmino rises above Tavernier at the near post, and flicks a close-range header into the top right. Easy as that.
22 min: Carvalho drifts in from the left and sends a low shot wide right. It’s not much, but it’s something for Liverpool to build on.
20 min: Liverpool are rattled here. Gomez plays a blind backpass from the Rangers left touchline, and only finds Colak, who knocks the ball past Alisson … but can’t round the keeper to finish the job, and there’s nobody else in the middle. Konate comes across to clear up. “This is Arfield,” quips Peter Oh, tapping an imaginary sign above his head.
19 min: On the touchline, Jurgen Klopp smacks his lips in frustration. Yet again, his side fall behind early on. This is becoming a serious problem for Liverpool, who haven’t really got going yet. Rangers certainly have.
GOAL! Rangers 1-0 Liverpool (Arfield 17)
Rangers have their first goal in this year’s Champions League … and Liverpool concede first yet again! Colak cuts in from the right. He lays off to Jack, who rolls a pass down the middle that splits the Liverpool defence. Arfield strides into the space, takes a touch, and threads into the bottom left. Ibrox erupts!
16 min: Barisic hoicks in from the left. Too strong. Jack picks up possession on the right and hooks back into the centre. Alisson plucks from the sky. Rangers are showing so much more attacking intent tonight. And why not? Nothing but a win will do.
15 min: Barisic launches long down the left for Kent, who tries to turn and make good for the box, but is stopped in his tracks by Alexander-Arnold stand-in Gomez.
13 min: Elliott dribbles ferociously down the middle, then shovels a pass down the inside-right channel and into the box for Nunez, who should shoot, but tries to find Firmino in the middle instead. Goldson hacks clear, then the flag goes up for offside … though had either Nunez or Firmino scored, VAR might have had some work to do. It was a close one.
12 min: It’s all a bit scrappy, to tell the truth. Passing sequences come with a premium right now.
10 min: Nunez bumps into Goldson. A garden variety foul that nearly leads to a minor brouhaha between Fabinho and Tavernier, both of whom having plenty to say. It all calms down quickly enough.
8 min: Rangers aren’t giving Liverpool an inch. The press is on. “Forget about the glasses,” writes Jeff Sachs. “Klopp should get his bags ready.” Ouch, tough crowd in tonight. The Empire has nothing on this.
6 min: Tsimikas curls in from the left. His cross is too high for Nunez, six yards out. Had it been a few inches lower, Rangers were in bother.
5 min: Kent, formerly of Anfield, cuts in from the left and looks to curl one into the top right. It’s a decent effort, not too far away, though Alisson probably had it covered. Rangers will be happy enough with their lively start.
4 min: Lundstram finds Sakala with a glorious diagonal pass out right. Sakala drops a shoulder to get past Tsimikas and into the Liverpool box, but his eventual shot is tame and dribbles through to Alisson.
3 min: Konate comes clattering into Jack, getting both ball and man. Ibrox wants a yellow card; it’s only a quiet word with the referee.
2 min: Liverpool pass it around the back as they find their feet early doors. This is their first competitive fixture at this famous stadium. “I’m wondering if Klopp has considered going back to his glasses?” wonders Brendan Large, apropos Liverpool’s recent travails. “Of course they got to the brink of the quadruple without them, but only won the least important ones. I bet Trent would love to be playing like it was the last time Klopp had glasses.”
Liverpool get the ball rolling. There is one hell of an atmosphere at Ibrox, its denizens having become accustomed to soundtracking big European nights of late. They’ve certainly found their voice again tonight.
The teams are out! Ibrox roars as one when the players emerge from the tunnel. Rangers sport their royal blue, while Liverpool wear red. Always lovely when both teams are dressed in their finest. Fireworks light up the sky. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes, once Uefa have given a nod in the direction of Zadok the Priest.
Jurgen Klopp speaks to BT Sport. “It is a busy period and we cannot force the boys through, we have to make changes. Diogo Jota was not planned, that’s why he was in yesterday’s press conference, but we got a call from the medical department saying he can play, but not too long. Oh great! So we’d better start somebody else who can play 90 minutes. But he is on the bench and is available.”
Giovanni van Bronckhorst talks to BT. “There is only one change. The team is doing well in the league. Today we have to start right, and try to attack them. We have had great experiences in Europe this season and last season, and the atmosphere can be really good. But it’s only good when you perform as well on the pitch.”
Full time in Naples: Napoli 4-2 Ajax
Napoli have qualified for the knockout stage with two Group A games to play. Luciano Spalletti’s box-fresh side have announced themselves in style, and look more than capable of winning Europe’s biggest prize for the first time. A long way to go, of course, but the excitement around them is palpable.
Ajax had been pressing for an equaliser … but a huge Daley Blind clanger has just secured the win for Napoli. Blind hesitated over a backpass, allowing Victor Osimhen to appear from nowhere, take the ball off his toe, and roll it into the empty net, Remko Pasveer stationed elsewhere, waiting for the pass that never came. Latest score: Napoli 4-2 Ajax.
It’s now Napoli 3-2 Ajax. Steven Bergwijn whips home a penalty after 83 minutes. It was a pretty soft award, Brian Brobbey backing into Juan Jesus and crumpling, the referee generously pointing to the spot. But VAR didn’t see enough to overturn the decision, and the four-time winners are back in it!
The other game in Group A kicked off early … and everybody’s new second-favourite team, Napoli, have just gone 3-1 up at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona against Ajax. Hirving Lozano opened the scoring for the Italians on four minutes, Giacomo Raspadori adding a second 12 minutes later. Davy Klaassen pulled one back for Ajax four minutes after the break, but the sensational Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has restored Napoli’s two-goal cushion by roofing a penalty. Latest score: Napoli 3-1 Ajax.
Team news: Colak starts, Salah benched
Just one change to the Rangers starting XI from the 4-0 win against St Mirren. Ryan Kent replaces Rabbi Matondo, who drops to the bench. Antonio Colak, who has 13 goals to his name this season already, leads the line. Fashion Sakala, a troublesome presence for Liverpool at Anfield last week, is tasked with providing Colak the ammo.
Liverpool make six changes to the team named for the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal. Mohamed Salah, Thiago and Diogo Jota are all benched, while Luis Diaz, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip are injured. Stepping into a youthful team: Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Davies, Barisic, Jack, Lundstram, Sakala, Arfield, Kent, Colak.
Subs: Yilmaz, Davis, Matondo, Sands, Morelos, Scott Wright, McCrorie, McLaughlin, King, Devine, Tillman.
Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Konate, van Dijk, Tsimikas, Henderson, Fabinho, Elliott, Firmino, Nunez, Carvalho.
Subs: Thiago, Milner, Salah, Adrian, Jota, Robertson, Bajcetic, Phillips, Kelleher.
Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia).
A week ago this happened …
… and now Rangers are on the brink of an early exit from the Champions League. Nothing but a victory for the Light Blues tonight can save them. Liverpool meanwhile are looking for a win that would nudge them closer to the knockout phase. Kick off is at 8pm BST. It’s on!