Rangers’ Champions League hopes were extinguished in Eindhoven as PSV ran out comprehensive 5-1 winners to go through 7-3 on aggregate in their playoff, a result that made the visiting manager feel compelled to apologise to his side’s travelling fans.
Having drawn 2-2 with the Dutch club at Ibrox last week, Rangers deservedly fell behind in the 35th minute in the Philips Stadion when Ismael Saibari headed in.
The Moroccan attacker added a second in the 53rd minute and while the Rangers captain, James Tavernier, pulled a goal back in the 64th minute the PSV captain, Luuk de Jong, wasted little time in restoring the two-goal lead with a header similar to the one he scored in Glasgow.
Joey Veerman compounded Rangers’ misery when he fired in the fourth before a hapless Connor Goldson scored an own goal to confirm Rangers will drop down to the Europa League. It was a dismal performance from Michael Beale’s team, who carried almost no threat until it was too late.
“The buck stops with me,” said Beale. “I wasn’t happy with losing the way that we lost tonight. There was moments in the game that could have gone for us … but it’s obviously bitterly frustrating.
“In two legs against PSV, we scored three goals – the problem’s at the other end of the pitch. Coming into the September international break, the aim was to get in the Champions League, it was to get into the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup and it was to end this first period of league fixtures as high up or in front if we can. We’re out of the Champions League.
“We played against an excellent team and just an apology to our fans who came across. They stuck with the team in both legs and they expect a little bit more than what they got.”
From the first leg, Beale drafted in the midfielder John Lundstram and the winger Rabbi Matondo, with Abdallah Sima and Ryan Jack dropping out. The home side soon warmed to the task and De Jong headed a corner over the bar before the Rangers keeper Jack Butland beat away a Veerman drive.
In the 19th minute Johan Bakayoko floated a cross to the back post and De Jong headed wide as PSV gradually increased the pressure. Only a fine reaction save from Butland denied Saibari from close range and there was a VAR check seconds later when Ibrahim Sangaré went down in the box under a challenge from Borna Barisic.
Rangers survived but only for a few moments, until Veerman got behind Tavernier and crossed from the byline for Saibari to head past Butland from six yards. The goal seemed to drain Rangers of real belief and they almost came unstuck again just before the break when Bakayoko’s angled drive flew just past the far post.
The start to the second half was no more encouraging for the visitors. Barisic picked up an injury and was replaced by Dujon Sterling before Rangers fell further behind.
Jordan Teze’s cross to the back post evaded Tavernier and De Jong knocked the ball back for Saibari to ease into the net from close range. Saibari soon went looking for his hat-trick but was denied by a Butland save.
Sam Lammers and Danilo came on for Cyriel Dessers and Nicolas Raskin and there was a quick payoff. Lammers took a Todd Cantwell pass and knocked it across goal for Tavernier to steer in from a couple of yards out to give the visitors an unlikely lifeline, taken away less than two minutes later when De Jong headed in a free-kick from Veerman.
A Bakayoko drive was pushed away by Butland while at the other end Matondo hit the outside of a post with a drive. In the 78th minute Veerman fired a pass from Teze low past Butland for PSV’s fourth goal before Goldson took a pass from his keeper and knocked the ball into his own net to complete a miserable night for Rangers, who somehow have to regroup for the Old Firm visit of Celtic on Sunday.