In earlier times, Rangers managers would have approached this game like Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Like to flee the scene with the troops in one piece and no additional damage.
In a game in which two defenders staggered through the pyrotechnics of the Spartak Stadium as drunken sailors with smoke in their eyes, Steven Gerrard went to work in a different way. In a ridiculously open and entertaining football game the Ibrox boss went looking for broke.
Rangers led three times and ended with a chaotic first half of five goals, two own goals and some disastrous bad defenses with the three points in their grasp. A 12th straight-game without defeat in Europe was there for the taking and afterwards it seems obvious. Everything does it.
Rangers had the perfect start with an own goal by Spartaks Roman Emerenko
The midfielder of Spartak threw in the fifth minute a corner past his own goalkeeper
Spartak Moscow: Maksimenko, Rasskazov, Kutepov, Bocchetti, Melgarejo, Roman Eremenko (Glushakov 60), Fernando, Zobnin, Popov (Timofeev 71), Luiz Adriano (Ze Luis 81), Hanni
Subs not used: Rebrov, Dzhikija, Lomovitskiy, Eshchenko
booked: Popov, Rasskazov, Fernando, Bocchetti, Melgarejo
Goals: Melgarejo 22, Goldson 35 og, Luiz Adriano 58, Hanni 59
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Flanagan (Halliday 82), Coulibaly (Grezda 82), Ejaria (McAuley 90), Arfield, Candeias, Morelos, Middleton
Subs not used: Foderingham, Jack, Ross McCrorie, Worrall
booked: Coulibaly, Morelos
Goals: Roman Eremenko 5 og, Candeias 27, Middleton 41
Ref: Ivan Bebek (Croatia)
But in the cold daylight the icon of England might wonder if the second half asked for a different approach. A return to the Walter Smith era when Rangers thought nothing of parking the bus on the 18-meter line and finishing the Napoleonic retreat with a point to show for their efforts. At least.
The victory was always more important for Spartak. Defeat here saw Rangers surrender first in the group and drop to third place. A place in the last 32 is still feasible, but the fact that you do not leave something here makes it a lot harder than it might have been
Make no mistake. They were beaten in each of their last four home games, Spartak was there for the taking. Leading 3-2 during half-time was a match that Rangers could and should have won, losing two goals in 60 crazy seconds, making the result a huge disappointment after taking the lead in just five minutes for the first time.
In for the hurt Ryan Kent young Glenn Middleton the first corner kick was hacked into his own net by Spartak's Finnish midfielder Roman Eremenko – brother of former Kilmarnock playmaker Alexei.
Home support did not take the goal badly. In the ten-minute opening time, three torches were launched on the field, which resulted in the certainty of a UEFA fine. Nevertheless, the pyrotechnics was quickly tuned into the field, the opening 45 minutes a frankly unbelievable affair.
Lorenzo Melgarejo gave the home side a powerful header after 22 minutes
Spartak equalized after 23 minutes. Winger Ivelin Popov proved to be a threat to the left Jon Flanagan on the right flank. His turn and cross find teammates in line to score. Lorenzo Melgarejo came first and flew for Roman Zobnin to get the ball into the net at close range for 1-1.
Parity did not last long. Flanagan's pass over the top found Daniel Candeias unmarked and us after 26 minutes. The Portuguese wing captain Rangers returned to the lead with a low finish in the lower right corner. It was a good cause from start to finish.
Better, certainly, than the second equalizer from Spartak seven minutes later. Connor Goldson's own goal was a bizarre affair. Within seconds after the home captain Bocchetti turned almost another into his own net at the other end, the catalyst – again one – Popov, passed a slide rule behind Flanagan giving Nikolai Rasskazov an over-lap the chance to hit the ball over the goal.
The obvious foot for Goldson to use to clear it up was his left. With the help of his right hand the signing of £ 3 million with disgust saw how the ball turned up and drove 2-2 in the corner of the net past McGregor.
Daniel Candeias made it 2-1 with a super attack after having left the defense
Unbelievably, Rangers came again. Spartak & # 39; s defense was sometimes laughably bad. In Stalin's time in Russia, they had lined up a firing squad in a queue and pulled four out of the misery.
When he was 18, young Middleton got a moment to enjoy when he re-led the Ibrox team within 42 minutes. Alfredo Morelos had the initial opportunity before a happy break a sidefooted finish for the teenager. Only a dubious, dubious offside flag prevented Morelos from making 4-2 at intervals. The fact that the Colombian top scorer was one of the few Rangers players without a goal on his name at half time, showed how unusual the game was.
It needed a brilliant block from the right foot of Allan McGregor to prevent Sofiane Hanni Rangers from leading again within one minute of the restart.
Daniel Candeias and Alfredo Morelos celebrate that Rangers takes the lead for the second time
On the last day of last season, bombed in a chaotic 5-5 draw with Hibernian, this was never a game that probably ended 3-2.
The case was there for Rangers who closed things. It may not have made a difference. But the loss of two goals in the 58th and 59th minute were bitter pills to swallow.
The score went to 3-3 when Hanni's daring back-flick of a low cross was once again excellently blocked by the outstretched right foot of McGregor. Whatever happened here, the guard of the Rangers can honestly say that he could do very little to prevent the goals. While the ball turned up in the air, the Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano hit a crossbar in the unprotected net for 3-3.
Spartak equalized with Connor Goldson's own goal in the 35th minute for the second time
There was hardly any time to regroup, to settle matters, when Spartak took the lead for the first time in the match.
It was a terrible, albeit very unfortunate, moment for Connor Goldson. The honor for a badly declined 20-yard attack was given to Hanni. Yet television images showed the ball of the Englishman's shin and changed direction in the air. Spartak supporters chose not to quibble.
Only the crossing of posts and crossbeams prevented Spartak captain Bocchetti, bringing the score to 5-3 with 16 minutes, a shot from Popov's free kick for the woodwork, the defender denied a goal at the second attempt by McGregor & # 39 ; s legs.
Glenn Middleton celebrates scoring the third goal for Rangers in the 41st minute
For all their occasional genius, the attempts of Spartak players to win fake penalties were a pathetic affair. Popov could have been booked twice for simulation, the Croatian referee who is satisfied with one yellow card. Opening goalscorer Melgarejo followed him in the final phase.
Immediately at the death, Rangers put the home goal at his feet and almost picked their point. A penalty box scramble saw Nikola Katic denied by the post and Spartak hack the ball free before substitute Andy Halliday hit a 20-yard strike centim wide of the post. The unbelief of home fans on full-time speaking time for everyone.
This was a great game.
Spartak secured a memorable victory when Sofiane Hanni & # 39; s deflected shot flew into the net
Steven Gerrard suffered his first European defeat as Rangers boss in his 12th game in charge