Abdallah Sima fires Rangers to victory in Europa League clash with Real Betis



Posted Friday, September 22, 2023 by PA

Abdallah Sima fires Rangers to victory in Europa League clash with Real Betis

Abdallah Sima’s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 victory for Rangers against Real Betis in their opening Europa League group match at Ibrox.

The forward poked home a shot from close range to settle a competitive match between the two of the favourites to progress to the knockout stages.

Michael Beale’s side also struck the frame of the goal twice in a strong second-half display and had goalkeeper Jack Butland to thank for making several key saves, especially in the opening period.

Rangers made four changes from the team that had defeated St Johnstone at the weekend.

There were starting places for Sima, Rabbi Matondo, Jose Cifuentes and Borna Barisic. Out dropped Danilo, Nicolas Raskin, Sam Lammers and Ridvan Yilmaz.

Betis were able to call upon the experience of Claudio Bravo to deputise for first-choice goalkeeper Rui Silva as part of six changes to the team beaten 5-0 by Barcelona at the weekend.

Rangers could have been in front within five minutes. Kemar Roofe’s searching pass sent Matondo running clear but his shot was weak and easily saved by Bravo.

Betis’ response came from a driven effort from Abdessamad Ezzalzouli that Butland did well to save before he pushed away another Ezzalzouli shot from a tight angle.

It was end to end at this point and a rare mis-step from the impressive Isco saw him drag a shot wide after good play by Hector Bellerin down the Betis right.

Ezzalzouli then lashed a shot over the top and saw another effort repelled by Butland as the Spaniards pushed for the lead.

At the other end, Sima could not get enough purchase on his stab at goal before Matondo was wasteful with another attempt before the break.

The Welshman looked to have a great chance early in the second half with Sima’s cross coming his way only for Bellerin to steer it clear for a corner.

Tom Lawrence struck the outside of a post with a long-range effort and Barisic then hit the top of a crossbar from a free-kick just outside the box after Marc Bartra had felled Roofe.

Lammers came on for the injured Lawrence and saw two efforts blocked as Rangers went looking for a winner.

It arrived after 68 minutes, Sima slamming in a loose ball as Betis failed to properly deal with a goalmouth scramble after Bravo made a stunning stop to repel Roofe’s volley.

Betis pushed for a leveller but two big saves from Butland denied substitute Rodri.

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