Joe Aribo scores but Rangers fall to Frankfurt in Europa League final

Nigerian midfielder Joe Aribo gave his club, Glasgow Rangers, hope of twinning the UEFA Europa League title with his early second half goal but it was not enough to seal the win.

Three Nigerian players – Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey, and Leon Balogun entered the history books for being the first three Nigerians to make the squad of a club in a European final since 1995, when current assistant manager George Finidi and ‘Papilo' Nwankwo Kanu made the UEFA Champions League final with Ajax Amsterdam against AC Milan (and won it).

Aribo went one ahead and scored the opening goal of the tie in the 57th minute playing in a false nine role as Rangers' first choice striker, Kemar Roofe, was only fit enough for the bench.

It was also his first goal in the tournament but a defensive error from the centre back pairing of his Super Eagles teammate Calvin Bassey and Connor Goodwin allowed Eintracht Frankfurt to equalise.

Both teams played it safe for the remainder of the game and it went to penalties. It was veteran midfielder Aaron Ramsey, on loan at Rangers from Serie A club Juventus, whose missed spot kick gave the Germans the title to break the chokehold that Spanish and English/United Kingdom-based clubs had on it.

Bassey praised as man of the match by national teammate

Bassey was solid throughout the game but for his unfortunate slip up which led to the equaliser from Frankfurt. Fellow Super Eagles defender Kenneth Omeruo took to Twitter to praise his national teammate and dubbed him the man of the match for his exceptional performance in the heart of Rangers' defence.

“Bassey man of the match for me,” Omeruo tweeted.

Balogun remained on the bench as Rangers saw the title slip away. The final was Rangers' first European final in 14 years, and just like in their last appearance, they lost it too.

Having finished second in the Scottish Premiership, their chances of going to Europe would have been halved as they would have been required to participate in a playoff round to seal a ticket to next season's UEFA Champions League.

However, following the ruling of FIFA and UEFA on Russian football due to the ongoing attacks in Ukraine by the Russian president Vladimir Putin, Rangers will have a much easier chance to feature in next season's Champions League.

They will go as the second-place team into the third qualifying round of the League Path in Champions League qualification instead of the second round after the ruling. It takes their journey to possible group stage qualification from six matches to four.

 

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

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