Rangers 2-2 Benfica: Gerrard's men stunned by another two-goal comeback
Benfica midfielder Pizzi
AFP
Goals from Scott Arfield and Kemar Roofe were not enough as Rangers conceded quick-fire goals to draw 2-2 with Benfica on Thursday.

Rangers let slip a late two-goal lead against Benfica for the second time in a month to draw 2-2 in Thursday's Europa League clash at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard's men were cruising at 3-1 in the reverse fixture with 13 minutes to go, only to switch off and draw 3-3 to leave the sides level on points in Group D.

History repeated itself in Glasgow as Scott Arfield's early strike and Kemar Roofe's superb second from 20 yards put the home side in control.

Article continues below

However, an unfortunate James Tavernier own goal with 12 minutes to go was followed soon after by a Pizzi drive to help Benfica snatch another crucial point, ensuring Rangers still have work to do to progress to the last 32.

Benfica were without a number of injured and suspended players and fell behind inside seven minutes. Tavernier headed against the crossbar after Roofe's header was well saved but Arfield smashed home the rebound from 10 yards.

The visitors saw plenty of the ball but failed to test Allan McGregor in a first half devoid of any other real chances.

Rangers had a penalty shout for handball against Jan Vertonghen rejected, but they scored a second goal in the 69th minute when Roofe thundered into the top corner after a smart team move.

But nerves were then sent jangling when Goncalo Ramos forced in a close-range shot that hit Gers skipper Tavernier and crossed the line.

The previously quiet Alfredo Morelos had a 20-yarder fumbled onto the bar by Helton Leite and that proved a decisive moment as Benfica levelled up in the 81st minute, Connor Goldson's attempted clearance falling to substitute Pizzi to lash into the roof of McGregor's net.

 

What does it mean? Gers fail to learn their lesson

Gerrard said his side "only have themselves to blame" on the back of their 3-3 draw in Portugal but he was confident lessons would be learned. Not quite.

Benfica may only have managed two attempts on target, four fewer than the hosts, but they still managed to steal a point with that late double.

It leaves the sides locked on eight points apiece at the top of Group D, with Lech Poznan and Standard Liege five points worse off.

Arfield continues scoring streak

The Canada international may have fallen just short of registering double figures for goals in all competitions last season, but he already has six to his name this campaign.

That includes goals in his last three games, although unlike against Hamilton and Aberdeen he could not add an assist to his collection and did not end on the winning team.

Rangers' defence crumbles 

Despite holding a commanding lead, the home side's back four seemed to become incredibly nervous as the game entered its final 15 minutes. Both goals could have been prevented - the first a scrappy own goal and the second coming after Goldson failed to clear the ball. 

In Goldson's defence, though, he won a higher percentage of duels than anyone on the field (83) and no player managed more than his six clearances.

Key Opta Facts:

- Rangers have still yet to lose a home game in the group stage of the Europa League (P8 W4 D4).

- Benfica are unbeaten in their last five Europa League games (W2 D3), while they have scored at least two goals in each of these outings (15 in total).

- Rangers have found the back of the net in 13 of their last 14 games in the Europa League, only failing to score versus Bayer Leverkusen in August this year.

- Two of Rangers' four own goals in the Europa League have been scored against Benfica (Tavernier and Goldson).

- Arfield netted his first goal in the Europa League since scoring on his debut in the competition back in September 2018 versus Villarreal - his first goal in 18 appearances in the competition. 

What's next?

Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action with a trip to Falkirk on Sunday, while Benfica are away to Maritimo in the Primeira Liga on Monday.