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Crvena zvezda vs Rangers: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

Rangers are well placed to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals for the first time with a 3-0 lead for the second leg against Crvena zvezda.

Rangers won the first leg 3-0 in Glasgow
Rangers won the first leg 3-0 in Glasgow UEFA via Getty Images

Scottish champions Rangers are well placed to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals for the first time as they carry a 3-0 lead into the second leg of their round of 16 contest with Serbian counterparts Crvena zvezda.

• Crvena zvezda topped Group F in the autumn ahead of Braga, Midtjylland and Ludogorets, albeit as the lowest-scoring section winners with just six goals – the same number as Rangers managed in Group A. It was the first time the Belgrade side had ever finished top of a European group.

• Rangers clinched a UEFA Europa League knockout phase berth with a game to spare, finishing second to Lyon in Group A with eight points, before overcoming Dortmund 6-4 on aggregate (4-2 a, 2-2 h) with captain James Tavernier scoring three of their goals over the tie.

Crvena zvezda vs Rangers: the latest from the match

Previous meetings
• Tavernier was on the mark again, from the penalty spot, to open the scoring after 11 minutes against Crvena zvezda in Glasgow, Alfredo Morelos doubling Rangers' lead soon afterwards with his 33rd European goal. Aleksandar Katai then had a penalty saved by Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor before Leon Balogun made it 3-0 early in the second half.

• Rangers and Crvena zvezda have been paired three times previously in UEFA competition, the Scottish side having the edge with two aggregate victories to one though they have yet to win in Belgrade (D1 L2).

• A play-off in London was required to separate the teams when they first met, in the 1964/65 European Cup preliminary round, after Rangers had won the first leg 3-1 in Glasgow and Crvena zvezda prevailed 4-2 in the Belgrade return. With no away goals rule in place, the Scottish side went through after winning the extra game 3-1 at Arsenal's Highbury.

• The teams did not meet again until the second round of Crvena zvezda's triumphant 1990/91 European Cup campaign, Darko Pančev scoring in both legs as the Belgrade side followed up a 3-0 home win with a 1-1 draw in Glasgow.

• The most recent tie before this one belonged to Rangers, however, as they edged Crvena zvezda out of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, Nacho Novo's 90th-minute strike in the first leg at Ibrox proving to be the only goal of the tie. Walter Smith's side would end that European campaign as UEFA Cup runners-up.

• Crvena zvezda's all-time record in two-legged ties against Scottish opposition is W2 L3. Beaten by Celtic in the second round of the 1968/69 European Cup (1-5 a, 1-1 h), they defeated Hearts on away goals in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup qualifying round (0-0 h, 1-1 a). They have yet to be beaten in Belgrade by Scottish visitors (W2 D3).

• Rangers' only other UEFA contest against Serbian opposition was a 2006/07 UEFA Cup group game at home to Partizan, which they won 1-0 with an Alan Hutton goal to reach the knockout phase.

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Form guide
Crvena zvezda
• A fourth successive Serbian SuperLiga title for Crvena zvezda in 2020/21, and second under coach Dejan Stanković, was supplemented by a first victory for nine years in the Serbian Cup. The club's first domestic double since 2006/07 crowned a season in which they also played a dozen games in Europe, reaching the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they lost out on away goals to AC Milan (2-2 h, 1-1 a).

• This season's bid to return to the UEFA Champions League group stage, where Crvena zvezda competed in 2018/19 and 2019/20, was thwarted by Moldovan champions Sheriff in the third qualifying round after the Belgrade side had earlier eliminated Kairat Almaty. CFR Cluj were then convincingly overcome in the UEFA Europa League play-offs to secure Crvena zvezda's third appearance in the group stage. Having advanced as runners-up in each of their previous two campaigns, in 2017/18 and 2020/21, they clinched first place in Group F on 11 points with a 1-1 draw away to runners-up Braga on Matchday 6.

• This is the Belgrade side's first appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 16. They were round of 32 losers to CSKA Moskva (0-0 h, 0-1 a) in 2017/18 and to Milan last season. This is the furthest the club has progressed in a UEFA competition for 30 years.

• A 0-1 defeat by Midtjylland on Matchday 4 ended Crvena zvezda's nine-game unbeaten European run in Belgrade (W6 D3). Their home record in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, is now W5 D4 L2, with Arsenal (1-0 in 2017/18) the only other visiting team to have won in the Serbian capital.

• This is the 36th UEFA competition tie in which Crvena zvezda have lost the first away leg. They have overturned the deficit on 14 of the previous 35 occasions, though only once when they have lost the first game by three or more goals – against Dynamo Berlin in the first round of the 1978/79 UEFA Cup (2-5 a, 4-1 h, won on away goals). They have been eliminated in both previous ties when they lost the first leg on the road 3-0, most recently by Sassuolo in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League qualifying play-off (1-1 h).

• Undefeated champions of Scotland in 2020/21 as they claimed a record-extending 55th domestic league title, Rangers also played 13 matches in the UEFA Europa League, progressing from the second qualifying round to the round of 16, where their run was ended by Slavia Praha (1-1 a, 0-2 h).

• Rangers returned to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in a decade this term, but they lost both third qualifying round legs 2-1 to Malmö and therefore transferred to the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they edged Alashkert to reach the group stage for the fourth successive season. Although they lost their opening two group games – against Lyon (0-2 h) and Sparta (0-1 a) – they remained unbeaten thereafter, taking four points off Brøndby (2-0 h, 1-1 a) and clinching second place with a 2-0 victory over Sparta at Ibrox on Matchday 5 in their first match under new manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who had replaced Steven Gerrard.

• This is Rangers' fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 16, and their record-equalling third in a row. However, in all three previous campaigns they failed to make it through to the quarter-finals, going out to PSV Eindhoven in 2010/11 (0-0 a, 0-1 h), Bayer Leverkusen in 2019/20 (1-3 h, 0-1 a) and Slavia last season. The first leg against Crvena zvezda therefore brought the Gers a first win at this stage of the competition, though they have scored just one goal in their three away fixtures (D2 L1).

• Having gone through their 2020/21 European campaign without a single defeat outside Glasgow (W5 D2), Rangers failed to record a win on their continental travels this term (D3 L2) until their 4-2 victory in Dortmund – a result that puts their away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase at W3 D3 L1, the lone defeat that loss at Leverkusen in 2019/20.

• The Glasgow giants have won 37 of the 45 UEFA ties in which they have built a first-leg lead at home. Just once in the last 11 such ties have they failed to make further progress – against Progrès Niederkorn in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round (1-0 h, 0-2 a). On no previous occasion have they won the first leg 3-0 in Glasgow.

Highlights: Rangers 3-0 Crvena zvezda

UEFA Europa League squad changes
Crvena zvezda
In: Nemanja Motika (Bayern München II), Ohi Omoijuanfo (Molde), Cristiano Piccini (Valencia)
Out: Miloš Degenek (Columbus Crew), Lois Diony, Marko Lazetić (AC Milan), Njegoš Petrović (Granada)

In: Amad Diallo (Manchester United, loan), Aaron Ramsey (Juventus, loan), James Sands (New York City, loan)
Out: Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City), Ianis Hagi, Filip Helander, Nathan Patterson (Everton)

Links and trivia
• Rangers' 40-year-old goalkeeper McGregor, who made his 100th appearance in UEFA club competition in the first leg against Dortmund, kept clean sheets in both matches for the Ibrox club when they defeated Crvena zvezda in that 2007/08 UEFA Champions League qualifying tie so has yet to concede in 270 minutes against the Serbian club.

• Crvena zvezda's Austrian international defender Aleksandar Dragović was in the Leverkusen side that knocked Rangers out of the UEFA Europa League two seasons ago, starting the first-leg win at Ibrox and coming off the bench in the return. The Austrian international's next appearance in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, will take him level with Daniel Carriço and Dries Mertens on top of the competition's all-time appearance list with 61.

• Katai, who missed from the spot at Ibrox, converted for Serbia against Scotland in the teams' UEFA EURO 2020 play-off penalty shoot-out, which Scotland, featuring Rangers' Ryan Jack, won 5-4 at Crvena zvezda's Stadion Rajko Mitić.

• Crvena zvezda goalkeeper Milan Borjan and Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield have both played international football for Canada.

• Opposing managers Stanković and Van Bronckhorst played against each other for Serbia & Montenegro and the Netherlands respectively in a group game at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the Oranje winning 1-0 in Leipzig. Both players went on to win over 100 caps at senior international level (Stanković 103, Van Bronckhorst 106).

• Rangers are appearing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for a third successive season. Only one team, Sevilla (2013/14–2015/16), have previously achieved that hat-trick.

• Morelos's goal in the first leg was his 32nd in all rounds of the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included, putting him third alone in the all-time scoring list for the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Cup combined – behind only Henrik Larsson (40 goals) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (34).

• Crvena zvezda and Rangers are the only two reigning national champions competing in this season's UEFA Europa League round of 16. The Serbian club are one of three domestic cup winners in the field, along with Barcelona and Braga.

• Crvena zvezda are one of three former European Cup/UEFA Champions League winners involved in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 – together with Barcelona and Porto.

• Serbia has a club in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the first time, making it the 23rd nation represented at this stage of the competition.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Crvena zvezda's record in seven UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W5 L2:
6-5 v Real Madrid, 1974/75 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final
2-4 v AC Milan, 1988/89 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round
5-3 v Marseille, 1990/91 European Champion Clubs' Cup final
4-3 v Metz, 1998/99 UEFA Cup first round
6-5 v Omonoia, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
7-6 v Copenhagen, 2019/20 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
2-4 v Omonoia, 2020/21 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round

• Rangers' record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W3 L1:
1-3 v Borussia Dortmund, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup third round
4-3 v Paris Saint-Germain, 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round
4-2 v Marítimo, 2004/05 UEFA Cup first round
4-2 v Fiorentina, 2007/08 UEFA Cup semi-final

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