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Rangers v Napoli: Defiance was the mantra of the evening for players and fans who did the club proud

CRAIG HOPE: Defiance was the mantra of the evening for Rangers players and fans alike who made the club proud… acting suspiciously means they are at the bottom of a daunting group but Giovanni van Bronckhorst can only be encouraged by the performance

  • UEFA delegation attending would admit Rangers tribute to late Queen was appropriate
  • A pin may have fallen in the car park during the minute of silence at Ibrox
  • Like their fans before the game, the Rangers players were proud of their club
  • Napoli went on to win 3-0 against 10-man hosts, but the full story isn’t

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First there was the silence, followed by the noise, observed respectfully and then rousing to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. And how Ibrox enjoyed defying UEFA instructions with a heartfelt chorus from God Save the King.

Rangers had confirmed in the hours before kick-off that they would play the national anthem, granting their supporters’ wishes, unlike the suits from Switzerland.

But even the UEFA delegation in attendance would admit that this was a fitting tribute to the late Queen, whose portrait hangs in the dressing room at home. It was, hopefully, a precursor to the scenes we will see on the Premier League grounds this weekend.

First there was the silence observed in marking the death of Queen Elizabeth II

First there was the silence observed in marking the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Ibrox enjoyed defying UEFA instructions with a heartfelt chorus from God Save the King

Ibrox enjoyed defying UEFA instructions with a heartfelt chorus from God Save the King

Ibrox enjoyed defying UEFA instructions with a heartfelt chorus from God Save the King

A pin could have fallen in the parking lot during the minute of silence and you would have heard it in this stadium, the reverence was shown, all set against the backdrop of a Union Jack mosaic depicting Her Majesty’s silhouette.

When the action started, the concern was that Rangers would be chasing their own shadows. No chance. Like their fans before the game, the players were proud of their club. Rebellion was the mantra of the evening.

Yes, it’s a second defeat to leave Rangers in a daunting Group A, but that had just as much to do with a suspect on duty.

The opening goal was scored by Matteo Politano from the penalty spot in the 68th minute before substitutes Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele added some undue brilliance with a pair of close-range finishes late on, although the full story is not.

Rangers players were also proud of their club, but suffered a loss due to suspicious performance

Rangers players were also proud of their club, but suffered a loss due to suspicious performance

Rangers players were also proud of their club, but suffered a loss due to suspicious performance

The opening goal was scored by Matteo Politano from the penalty spot in the 68th minute

The opening goal was scored by Matteo Politano from the penalty spot in the 68th minute

The opening goal was scored by Matteo Politano from the penalty spot in the 68th minute

Rangers started furiously and should have been up front in 30 seconds when Alfredo Morelos headed unmarked from six yards wide. And the hosts enjoyed the better odds until the real drama — and controversy — unfolded just before the hour.

Giovanni Simeone was sent off clear, but with Jamie Sands slipping to recover, the striker was sent down. It looked like the defender had some of the ball, but referee Antonio Maheu Lahoz disagreed and pointed to the spot, giving Sands a second yellow.

Rangers were furious, but then the fun began. Piotr Zielinski took the spot and McGregor saved, but Politano pulled in from the rebound. Goal? Not so. The attacker had infringed and the penalty was to be retaken. How Napoli got another chance from 12 yards after their foul is a mystery.

Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele added unnecessary shine with close-range finishes

Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele added unnecessary shine with close-range finishes

Giacomo Raspadori and Tanguy Ndombele added unnecessary shine with close-range finishes

Antonio Maheu Lahoz gave a penalty before showing Jamie Sands a second yellow

Antonio Maheu Lahoz gave a penalty before showing Jamie Sands a second yellow

Antonio Maheu Lahoz gave a penalty before showing Jamie Sands a second yellow

Zielinski thought he could outsmart McGregor by taking the exact same penalty, but at 40, the veteran goalkeeper is not one to feast on and duly produced another flying save.

And it was just another debatable decision that tipped the game in Napoli’s favour. It was close enough for Barisic to feel treated harshly. Politano got out to drive under McGregor.

But Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst can be encouraged by his side’s performance. They were just one goal away from a third consecutive 4-0 defeat, but this felt very different for the majority. Now for a delightful double-header against Liverpool.

But Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst can be encouraged by his party's performance

But Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst can be encouraged by his party's performance

But Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst can be encouraged by his party’s performance