Exactly eleven years and nine months after Rangers last played Champions League football, their long-awaited return descended into disarray within the space of just 16 minutes.
The time between Ajax’s painfully easy opener and their brilliant third goal witnessed another deeply concerning collapse by Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side. Four days on from Old Firm obliteration at Celtic Park, they were cut to ribbons once more.
Another major fixture quickly turned into a nightmare. Again, it was all done and dusted before the break. Van Bronckhorst had demanded a response to the weekend, yet was instead met with a second installment of paper-thin resistance.
So often in the recent past, excellence in Champions league football has provided Rangers with a balm for domestic troubles. They have raised their standards. And been a team transformed.
Not this time. Ajax are a team brimming with quality but the gulf in class exposed was frightening at times. The Ibrox outfit improved a little in the second period – with Borna Barisic seeing a fine curling finish ruled out by VAR – but it was way too little, way too late.
Easing up after the interval, their Dutch hosts could easily have been further ahead by that point. Their dominance had been absolute. As it was, they waited until the 80th minute before capitalising on another self-destructive act to make it 4-0 in one of the most enticing nights in the history of the Champions league.
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