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Rangers vs Benfica: background

Three weeks after an enthralling first ever UEFA encounter between the record champions of Scotland and Portugal, Group D front-runners Rangers and Benfica go head to head again knowing that victory in Glasgow could secure a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with two games to spare.• There were ebbs and flows aplenty in Lisbon on Matchday 3 as Benfica went ahead on 60 seconds with the UEFA Europa League’s fastest own goal, only to lose defender Nicolás Otamendi to a 19th-minute red card and then concede three goals – the third to Alfredo Morelos, who thus became Rangers’ record European scorer – before levelling the game, and preserving their unbeaten UEFA Europa League home record, thanks to substitute Darwin Núñez’s added-time equaliser.

• That 3-3 draw leaves Rangers and Benfica with seven points apiece, four more than third-placed Lech Poznań, who in turn have three more than bottom-placed Standard Liège.Previous meetings

Highlights: Benfica 3-3 Rangers• Rangers are unbeaten at home to Portuguese clubs in UEFA fixtures, winning the first five of the nine matches, then drawing the next two – both to Benfica’s city rivals Sporting CP – before overcoming Porto 2-0 and Braga 3-2 in last season’s UEFA Europa League.• While Benfica’s 100% success rate at home to Scottish visitors was ended by Rangers on Matchday 3, the Lisbon giants have won only one of their five UEFA matches in Scotland – the first, 2-1 against Hearts in the 1960/61 European Cup preliminary round. Their last four games in the country have all been against Celtic, yielding three defeats and then, in the most recent game, a 0-0 draw in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage. Benfica have yet to score a goal in Glasgow.Form guideRangers• Rangers were in second place 13 points behind Celtic when the 2019/20 Scottish Premiership came to a premature end. They also enjoyed a lengthy run in Europe, progressing from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League all the way to the round of 16, where, as Scotland’s last team standing, they were eliminated by Bayer Leverkusen (1-3 h, 0-1 a).• Steven Gerrard’s side came through three qualifiers to reach this season’s group stage, beating Lincoln Red Imps (5-0) and Willem II (4-0) on the road before a 2-1 play-off success against Galatasaray in Glasgow. They made it five wins out of five by beating Standard (2-0 a) and Lech (1-0 h) in the first two games of what is the club’s third successive group stage participation. Rangers finished third in their section two seasons ago but progressed last term in second place behind Porto, their nine-point total enabling them to finish ahead of Young Boys and Feyenoord.• Rangers were undefeated in 17 home European matches (W12 D5) until they lost 3-1 to Leverkusen in last season’s round of 16 first leg. The clean sheet on Matchday 2 against Lech was their first in five UEFA fixtures at Ibrox.Benfica• Runners-up to Porto in the 2019/20 Portuguese Liga and Taça de Portugal, Benfica’s bid to make it 11 successive appearances in the UEFA Champions League proper foundered on entry in this season’s third qualifying round when, under newly reappointed head coach Jorge Jesus, they lost 2-1 at PAOK. They are therefore competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time since the competition’s inaugural 2009/10 season, when they topped their section and went on to reach the quarter-finals.• Despite their extended absence from this juncture of the competition, Benfica have played more matches in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase than any other club (40) and were runners-up in both 2012/13 – to Chelsea – and 2013/14 – to Sevilla. They were participants also in the past two seasons, reaching the quarter-finals in 2018/19 but falling in the round of 32 for the first time last term, against Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2 a, 3-3 h).• The Eagles have won only four of their last 19 European fixtures outside Portugal, losing 12, but they ended a run of three successive away defeats in the UEFA Europa League by defeating Lech 4-2 in Poland on Matchday 1. Their group stage record on the road is now W3 L1.Links and trivia• Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack’s next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.• Cédric Itten (Rangers) and Haris Seferović (Benfica) both play up front for Switzerland.• Gerrard was in the Liverpool team that, as UEFA Champions League holders, lost both legs of their 2005/06 round of 16 tie against Benfica (0-1 a, 0-2 h). The current Rangers boss captained the Merseysiders to victory, however, in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final between the clubs in 2009/10 (1-2 a, 4-1 h).• Jorge Jesus led Benfica to back-to-back UEFA Europa League finals in 2012/13 and 2013/14, losing both, to Chelsea and Sevilla respectively.• Rangers’ on-loan South African midfielder Bongani Zungu played for Vitória SC in 2016/17. He lost all four games against Benfica but did score the Guimarães club’s consolation goal against them in the Portuguese Cup final (1-2).• Morelos’s goal in Lisbon was his 26th in Europe and his 22nd in UEFA competition for Rangers, surpassing Ally McCoist’s club record.• Benfica’s draw against Rangers enabled the Portuguese club to extend their unbeaten home run in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, to 24 matches, a new competition record.• Benfica are one of six former European Cup winners in this season’s UEFA Europa League group stage, the others being PSV Eindhoven (Group E), Celtic and AC Milan (H), Feyenoord (K) and Crvena zvezda (L).• This is Benfica’s 50th match in the UEFA Europa League proper, making them the third Portuguese club to reach that mark after Sporting and Braga.

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