Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. Yes, this was a friendly – a notoriously unreliable barometer of what lies ahead.
It must be said that Real Madrid also missed half a team here. They also have a week more than Rangers to get ready for the start of their own season.
Anyway, this was a hugely impressive display on Steven Gerrard’s part.
Cedric Itten scored the winning goal as Rangers came from behind to beat Real Madrid 2-1
But Steven Gerrad’s side equalized via Fashion Sakala before Itten took the winner
Carlo Ancelotti was beaten in his first game back as Real boss since he took over in June
Of course it won’t make much difference by the time they catch up with Livingston in their season opener on Saturday, but as far as a timely morale boost – if it was needed – you could hardly ask for more.
Other than the loss of a soft opening goal, Gerrard had little to blame. They defended better than Real, used the ball more effectively and were smarter in possession.
With Ibrox again about a quarter full and bathed in sunshine, this final preparation for Gerrard’s side will remain in the memory for much longer than most games of this kind.
You’d rather give more than a cent for Alfredo Morelos’ thoughts on all this. He is currently on an extended leave of absence in Colombia while his manager is unsure when he will return. The striker was the last man on his mind by the time Fashion Sakala and Cedric Itten canceled Rodrygo’s early opener.
What a story Sakala seems to be. From poverty in Zambia to scoring a goal against the most decorated club in the world, this day alone was quite a chapter.
Rodrygo had opened the scoring for LaLiga in the eighth minute of the friendly
The performance of the former Ostend player capped off a great day for Gerrard – a day in which a total of 21 players conquered the park and defeated mighty Real Madrid. It bodes well for the new champions.
While their European Cup victories in Hampden against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 and Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 are among Madrid’s most celebrated, they have actually been a rare visitor to the city.
This was in fact the first time Los Blancos set foot in Ibrox since September 1963, when Ferenc Puskas scored the winner three minutes before time for a six-goal breakout in Spain’s second leg.
Carlo Ancelotti’s absent list was significant with Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema nowhere to be seen. It was left to the likes of Marcelo, Luka Jovic and Isco to sprinkle the magic dust.
A week before the start of their title defense, Gerrard put up almost full strength on the field, providing further runs for new signings John Lundstram and Sakala.
Regardless of the opponent, pre-season matches can often lack some bit and intensity – especially when the temperature is more like Spain than Glasgow’s south side.
Yet this was anything but a pedestrian affair. In pursuit of the Spanish title and with Ancelotti back at the helm, Madrid was not in town to roam for the La Liga restart on August 13.
They took the lead within eight minutes by a radical counterattack. Martin Odegaard showed beautiful feet and vision to unleash Rodrygo on the left. Unwilling to deal with him by the Rangers defense, the Brazilian bobbed and weaved, finishing beautifully past Allan McGregor with a poke with his right boot.
However, there were enough opportunities for Gerrard’s team to equalize before half-time.
Ianis Hagi caused trouble for the Spaniards when he and Ryan Kent attacked together
Connor Goldson, who is about to sign a new long-term contract, was hit with a header off the line that saw lively Sakala Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin make the first of many saves with his feet.
Ryan Kent looked like a player preparing to pick up where he left off last season. Madrid centre-back Victor Chust came out second in his joust with the winger here and fell victim to a nutmeg that delighted Ibrox.
The only blemish on the Englishman’s writing book was when he hit the underside of the bar from six yards, when it was much easier to score.
The opportunity had come from Scott Wright taking advantage of Marcelo’s mistake with Sakala providing the link.
Ianis Hagi was hot for the task against the side where his father Gheorghe played between 1990 and 1992.
After acrobatically knocking his free kick away by Lunin, he had the composure to train Kent for a fierce low drive that did the Ukrainian good to set something up.
The man who has the unenviable task of ousting Thibaut Courtois from Ancelotti’s side this season, Lunin was by some distance Madrid’s best player here. John Lundstram was the last to find him in imperious form just before halftime.
Nacho was sent off in the 75th minute for a second booking after a high tack on Glen Kamara
However, Sakala left him without prayer 10 minutes after the restart. Glen Kamara was introduced during the break and stole the ball high in the park. The Zambian was through in a flash, taking two touches to advance and crashing the ball past Lunin with his third.
Amid a flurry of substitutions in the second half, an exciting game lost quite a bit of rhythm. Madrid’s submarine Miguel Gutierrez hit the outside of the post, but it would have been extremely hard on Gerrard’s side.
Itten gave the score a much more accurate shine with a sumptuous right-hand finish from a corner with 13 minutes to go after Real worked to clear their lines.
Ancelotti’s side ended the game with 10 men after Nacho picked up a second booking for a high tackle on Kamara.