Europa League: RB Leipzig lose in Glasgow and miss the final

Football locker rooms are sacred spaces filled with secrets and rituals known only to those who have access. They have more in common with confessionals than with changing rooms, and the confessor is in many cases the man who gets the job title kit-warder, and who in a narrower sense is responsible for putting the right sweaters, pants, socks forward. and shoes.

Jimmy Bell was such a man, he worked for the Glasgow Rangers for more than 30 years. Until he died unexpectedly Tuesday. On Thursday night, the Rangers played against RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-final and they did not just want to catch up with the 1-0 loss from the first match. But above all, win for Jimmy. Managed. The Rangers won 3-1 and advanced to the final in Sevilla, where they will face Eintracht Frankfurt on 18 May. It will be the most important match for the Rangers in exactly 50 years, when they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in Barcelona against Dynamo Moscow. For Leipzig, on the other hand, a title opportunity is gone. You still have hopes of winning the trophy. They meet SC Freiburg in the final in Berlin on 21 May.

Rangers’ victory was based on the fact that their team had nothing to do with the team that had presented itself in the Leipzig Arena the previous week. There was Glasgow a kind of Dr. Jekyll, at home at Ibrox Stadium, coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team was now Mr. Hyde. A feverish team that from the first second appeared as if the 50,000 spectators dug tracks in the flesh of the eleven players in blue jerseys. Even in the VIP box, the upper class roared berserk, even though they wore finely knotted ties, and made theirs that every single duel on the court was fought with the relentless determination associated with pub fights.

But while Rangers handled broken glasses, the Leipzig team lined up with cracked Tetra-Paks. They made their first mistake in the 35th minute. By that time, the Rangers were already leading 2-0.

Leipzig’s happiness lasts only ten minutes

Especially the first goal was emotionally strong. Ryan Kent came through on the left and made a low pass into the six-yard box where James Tavernier pushed the ball over the line from close range (18 ‘). Tavernier had told the previous night how kit manager Bell pulled the captain’s armband over his biceps before each match. Six minutes later, it was Glen Kamara who scored from 16 yards to make it 2-0 in the Leipzig goal. RB Leipzig had little more to face than shots from their two Spaniards. Once, Dani Olmo went just over the top (28 ‘), just before the break, Angeliño defender Joe Aribo literally shot knockout from a free kick. – Aribo got a slap in the face, fell over and had to be replaced.

This was the only phase where coach Domenico Tedesco was able to communicate with his team. In seclusion in their own hut, the spectators could not be heard. Leipzig were then able to have longer ball possession phases. But no convincing possibilities developed from this. With 70 minutes played, seemingly due to lack of experience, Konrad Laimer needlessly tripped an opponent just outside the penalty area, but the free kick that followed didn’t succeed.

Laimer shot the goalkeeper – and was lucky that another great opportunity immediately opened up, as he was still busy tearing his hair out. For after a post from Angeliño from the left, striker Christopher Nkunku extended – who else? – the ball in the net to 2-1 (70.). Thus, the knockout round was balanced. But only for ten minutes.

A cross from Rangers’ offensive force Kent got longer and longer – and flew over Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in a high arc. Defender Josko Gvardiol scraped the ball off the line. But it landed on John Lundstram, who shot flat in to 3-1. That meant the only final – also because, given the death of their kit manager Jimmy Bell, Rangers professionals were willing to play the game of their lives.

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