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In what was a swell showdown at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night, Rangers saw their European dreams slip between their fingers as they fell to a heartbreaking penalty shootout against Eintracht Frankfurt.
When they took the trip out to Sevilla with their aim of writing Europa League history, the Scottish giants failed to pull themselves over the finish line after Joe Aribo’s opening in the second half.
Backed by a euphoric travel support that constantly made itself heard throughout, it was simply not meant to be for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team here.
When Eintracht Frankfurt’s Rafael Santos Borré equalized just 12 minutes after Aribo’s attack, the Eagles managed to top what has been a remarkable European adventure this season.
After claiming their second Europa League crown after Aaron Ramsey’s costly miss from the penalty spot, we’ve taken a look at the key discussion points from Wednesday’s showpiece event.
The eagles are hovering in Seville
As they fell 1-0 down in what many considered the most important night in the modern history of Eintracht Frankfurt, their stunning comeback in the Spanish heat almost optimized the Eagles’ determination this season.
Currently, head coach Oliver Glasner sits in 11th place in the Bundesliga position and has not been able to find any kind of domestic stability throughout the 2021/22 campaign, and he has seen his team pick up some heavyweights’ scalps.
Along with getting past Premier League kit West Ham earlier this month thanks to an overall 2-1 victory, Frankfurt also rejected a famous display at the former Spanish champions Barcelona on 14 April.
After claiming a famous 3-2 victory in their meeting in the second round at the Nou Camp, even the most ardent Frankfurt fans would not have expected an evening that could top that showdown in Catalonia.
As he simply became the second German team to lift the Uefa Cup / Europa League since Schalke in 1997, there is no doubt that Borré joined the Eagles’ entourage on Wednesday night.
By writing off Aribo’s opener as the 26-year-old poked past Alan McGregor 12 minutes later, Frankfurt’s attacking talisman also received the decisive penalty as he again found a way past the Scottish veteran.
Borré was brought to Germany on a free transfer after a four-year stay with River Plate, and Borré was able to attract some European interest after scoring four goals in this season’s tournament.
Spanish heartache for Rangers
Taking the lead just before the hour mark thanks to Aribo’s finish with mussels, it almost looked like the Rangers were on their way to making their own piece of Europa League history here.
But despite being backed by an overjoyed crowd on foreign soil, van Bronckhorst’s side should look to find the positive things from a remarkable European race this season.
The Blues, who surprised almost everyone across the continent back in February when they finally got past Borussia Dortmund thanks to an exciting 6-4 overall victory, have received a ton of praise this year.
Enjoying what will long be remembered as an astonishing showdown against RB Leipzig earlier this month as they topped a true underdog story and the former Feyenoord boss must bring this momentum into the 2022/23 campaign.
Seeing bitter Old Firm rivals Celtic also snatch their home title this season, the Rangers would have wondered what could have been if Kemar Roofe was fully fit on Wednesday night.
Also unable to call on the attacking talisman Alfredo Morelos, who is still struggling with a long-term injury problem, van Bronckhorst’s crew could only crumble to their knees after Borré’s crucial spot kick.
With just a League Cup trophy to show for their problems this season, the Rangers will undoubtedly need time to recover from an emotionally draining night in Sevilla.
What’s next for Ramsey?
While someone was always destined to be the villain on Wednesday night when yet another Europa League final went to penalties, few would have expected Aaron Ramsey to be the man in that role.
The 31-year-old was considered by many to be too good to play in Scotland when he surprised almost everyone across Europe back in January when it was announced that the Wales international would move to Ibrox from Juventus on a short-term loan deal.
But despite enjoying a glittering career that includes three FA Cup medals during his 11-year stay with Arsenal, Ramsey has failed to make any impression in Glasgow.
With just 13 appearances during his four-month stay at Ibrox, the one-time Cardiff star will undoubtedly be remembered by Rangers fans for his crucial penalty kick miss at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
When he fluffs his lines from 12 yards out and sees his routine efforts being denied by Kevin Trapp, it remains to be seen where Ramsey’s future lies in the coming weeks.
Only summoned by van Bronckhorst in the final moments of extra time, the international with 72 caps returns to Turin this summer and the old lady has already made it clear he will be pushed out of the exit.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp, Toure, Silva Melo, Ndicka, Knauff, Rode, Sow, Kostic, Lindstrom, Kamada, Borré
Subs: Hasebe, Lenz, Jakic, Hrustic, Hauge
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic, Jack, Laundstram, Kamara, Wright, Aribo, Kent
Subs: Sands, Sakala, Ramsey, Davis, Roofe
Goal: Eintracht Frankfurt: Borré 69 ′ – Rangers: Aribo 57 ′
Yellow card: Wright, Aribo
Red cards: REACH
Judging: Slavko Vincic