Braga v Rangers: Ibrox side's up & down relationship with the away goals rule

By Andy CampbellBBC Sport Scotland
Abel Ruiz and Steven Davis
Rangers' tie with Braga is finely poised after a dramatic first leg in Glasgow
Europa League last 32 second leg: Sporting Braga v Rangers
Venue: Estadio Municipal de Braga Date: Wednesday, 26 February Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website & app

From the brink of calamity to euphoric redemption, Rangers' scarcely believable Europa League comeback at home to Braga last week will take some topping.

But seeing the tie through to a winning conclusion on Wednesday night would be just as satisfying for Steven Gerrard and his players.

At 2-0 down to the slick Portuguese in the last-32 first leg with less than half an hour to play, Rangers looked down and out. A tumultuous turnaround later, they have a 3-2 lead to take to Portugal.

However, to ensure progress, the Ibrox side's main priority should be to keep a clean sheet as a 1-0 or 2-1 win for Wednesday's hosts will send Rangers out of the competition.

Here, BBC Sport looks back at Rangers' up and down relationship with the away goals rule.

Laid low by Levski, vanquished by Viktoria & Villarreal

As the autumn of 1993 approached, Rangers fans were still basking in the glory of the club's domestic treble and memorable Champions League run from the previous season.

However, injuries to goalkeeper Andy Goram and the previous campaign's top scorer Ally McCoist had left Walter Smith's side somewhat threadbare at the start of the following campaign.

Bulgaria's Levski Sofia were drawn in the Champions League first qualifying round and the tie started positively enough with Dave McPherson's strike and Mark Hateley's headed double putting Smith's men into a commanding position at 3-1.

But Nikolay Todorov's header at Ibrox gave Levski the impetus for the second leg and it was the Bulgaria international's stunning late strike that gave Sofia a 2-1 win for an away goals victory.

Mark Hateley playing for Rangers against Levski Sofia
Mark Hateley's double proved futile in 1993

Fast forward nine years to 2002 and Alex McLeish's Rangers were paired with Czech side Viktoria Zizkov in the first round proper of the Uefa Cup.

A disastrous 2-0 first-leg defeat gave Rangers a mountain to climb at Ibrox and despite Ronald de Boer's double and Neil McCann's extra-time strike, it would be heartbreak for the home fans as Marcel Licka struck in the 100th minute to give Zizkov the precious away goal that would send them through.

There was more disappointment for McLeish in 2006 when, after a 2-2 draw at Ibrox and a 1-1 score in Spain, his side went out of the Champions League knockout stage at the last-16 stage at the hands of Villarreal.

Prevailing over Panathinaikos, splendid against Sporting

Chris Burke playing for Rangers against Panathinaikos
Chris Burke (right) is still playing at the age of 36 for Kilmarnock

After Panathinaikos drew 0-0 at Ibrox in mid-February 2008 and found themselves a goal up in the return match in Greece, Rangers looked down and out until Nacho Novo lashed in an equaliser that sent the Ibrox side through as they progressed towards the Uefa Cup final.

Three years later, Rangers faced familiar opponents when Portugal's Sporting rocked up to Ibrox in a Europa League last-32 tie.

Steven Whittaker, who had scored in Rangers' 2008 win against the Lisbon side, nodded the hosts ahead but a late goal by Matias Fernandez gave Sporting the away goals advantage they were looking for.

They took command of the return leg with a 2-1 lead but a late, late goal by Maurice Edu sent Rangers through to the last 16.

It wasn't the first time Rangers had knocked Sporting out on away goals - the club's run to winning the 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup win featured a second-round victory against the Portuguese.

Rangers won 3-2 at Ibrox and lost the away leg 4-3 with Colin Stein scoring twice and Willie Henderson netting once in each leg.

On Thursday, the travelling Rangers fans will be hoping for another memorable night in Portugal.

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