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Braga 1-0 Rangers: Ruiz strike gives Portuguese side advantage
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Daniel Lewis
LiveScore
Braga's players celebrate Abel Ruiz's goal against Rangers
Braga's players celebrate Abel Ruiz's goal against Rangers

Braga will take a slender 1-0 lead into next week's Europa League quarter-final second leg against Rangers thanks to Abel Ruiz's strike in Thursday's tie.

The hosts had already hit the post through Ricardo Horta and had an Andre Horta strike ruled out when Abel Ruiz fired them ahead shortly before half-time.

Rangers eliminated Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade to make it this far but could not register a shot on target at Estadio Municipal de Braga.

The sides meet again at Ibrox in a week's time, with the winners of this tie to face either RB Leipzig or Atalanta in the semi-finals.

After a slow start to the contest, Braga came to life in the 25th minute when captain Ricardo Horta's side-footed shot from 12 yards came back off the post.

Braga thought they had taken the lead two minutes later when Andre Horta fired in a deflected shot, only for the goal to be chalked off for Fabinho's rash challenge on Ryan Jack.

But Abel Ruiz's powerful shot past Allan McGregor, making his 100th European appearance for Rangers, was allowed to stand five minutes before half-time.

The introduction of Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe shortly after the hour mark injected some urgency into the Gers' play.

Braga's goal did not come under any serious threat, though, with Connor Goldson's wayward header the closest Rangers went to scoring.

What does it mean? All to play for in Glasgow

Braga were good value for their breakthrough goal when it arrived, with that Abel Ruiz strike making it 10 European away games in a row for Rangers without a clean sheet.

While the hosts were comfortable for an hour, there was little between the sides overall and that was reflected in the expected goals figures – 0.49 versus 0.47.

The Gers are still very much alive in the tie, having won three and drawn one of their last four home matches in the competition, scoring nine times in the process.

Abel Ruiz run goes on

Braga forward Abel Ruiz made the difference with his well-taken strike in the first half, coming at a point when Braga were growing frustrated in the contest.

The Spain international has now scored in each of his past three Europa League games, having netted just once in his previous 12 matches in the competition.

Morelos absence felt

Alfredo Morelos has been directly involved in 21 goals in 33 Europa League games, but Rangers will be without their star attacking player for the rest of the season.

There was a real lack of attacking threat in the Colombia striker's absence, the visitors failing to test Matheus from any of their six shots.

Key Opta facts

- Braga have won three in a row on home soil in European competition (incl. qualifiers) without conceding for the first time since March 2011 (a run of four).

- Rangers have lost each of their last two away European games (incl. qualifiers), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 13, with the Scottish side last losing consecutive away games in December 2018.

- The Gers have conceded at least one goal in each of their last eight away games in major European competition, their longest such run since a 13-game stretch between 1993 and 1999.

- Rangers failed to direct a single shot on target in a major European game for the first time since November 2009, against Stuttgart in the Champions League.

What's next?

Before reconvening in Glasgow in a week's time, Braga face Vizela in the Primeira Liga on Sunday and Rangers are away at St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership.

Tags

Europa LeagueRangersBraga
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