Sheyi Ojo scored his fifth goal for Rangers on Thursday night, and did so in style as his long-range rocket secured a 1-0 win over Feyenoord in the Europa League.
Steven Gerrard’s side began their European campaign proper with a Group G opener, having gone through St Joseph’s, Progres Niederkorn, FC Midtjylland and Legia Warsaw in the qualifiers.
Their opponents were Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord—who omitted ex-Liverpool youngster George Johnston from their matchday squad—and Ojo started on the right flank.
The clash began after a minute’s silence in memory of the late Fernando Ricksen, and on an emotional night Rangers were able to channel this into an intense display.
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They should have gone 1-0 up within 10 minutes, after Ojo’s goal-bound shot was handled by Edgar Le, but James Tavernier was unable to convert the spot-kick.
Both sides had strong chances to open the scoring before the 22-year-old’s decisive strike, with Scott Arfield hitting the crossbar, but the winner came in sensational fashion.
Ojo picked up a loose ball 25 yards out, drove forward on the left and fired a sweet left-footed effort into the back of the net from long range.
Rangers had plenty of opportunities to double their lead throughout, and Ojo struck the post from inside the area after twisting into space, but ultimately the game was won by his 23rd-minute wondergoal.
The importance of the goal was clear for both Rangers and Ojo, who took to Instagram after the game to dedicate his strike to Ricksen.
Ojo has now scored five and assisted four in 12 games for Gerrard’s side this season, with only striker Alfredo Morelos directly involved in more goals so far (11).
Eventually he will be able to line up on the opposite flank to Ryan Kent, and the challenge for Ojo will be to outshine his former Liverpool academy team-mate, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere on Thursday night, Loris Karius produced another calamitous error as Besiktas lost 4-2 at Slovan Bratislava in Group K.
The German, who is in his second season on loan with the Turkish side, misjudged the bounce of a long ball as he raced out of the box to head it clear, allowing Andraz Sporar to net a simple opener.
Karius himself apologised for his mistake on Instagram after the game, writing: “I take responsibility for the first goal, this ball has to be cleared better.”
Rangers are now second in Group G after their first game, behind Porto on goal difference, while Besiktas are bottom of Group K, with Wolves above them having conceded fewer in their 1-0 defeat to Braga.
Ex-Reds winger Bobby Adekanye came off the bench in Lazio’s 2-1 loss at Cluj, as did Daniel Sturridge in Trabzonspor’s 1-0 defeat away to Getafe and Rafa Camacho in Sporting CP’s 3-2 setback at PSV Eindhoven.