While many of you were out enjoying hot dogs, fireworks and America on July 4, Scottish club Rangers was busy embarrassing itself on the European stage.
Back in European football for the first time in six years, Rangers looked poised to advance past the first round of Europa League qualifying after taking a 1-0 lead in the home leg against FC Progrès Niederkorn.
Progrès Niederkorn, which finished fourth in Luxembourg, had scored all of one goal in its history in European competition coming into Tuesday’s match.
Even the match-day program at Progrès’ 8,000-seat stadium predicted a loss for the home team.
Rangers gave up a goal from a corner and a free kick in the second half to allow Progrès to progress 2-1 on aggregate.
Rangers lost to a club in Luxembourg. Not Luxembourg but a club in Luxembourg. Not the best team in Luxembourg, the 4th best in Luxembourg.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 4, 2017
It was Progrès’ first win in 14 European matches.
UEFA’s website called it one of the greatest victories in the history of Luxembourg soccer, comparing it to great results such as another club’s 0-0 draw with Ajax in 1984.
It’s actually kind of sad, because Rangers used to be a great club. Founded in 1872, they’ve won 54 league titles. Rangers dominate the 90s, winning every title that decade, though they weren’t the only Rangers to dominate the 90s.
The Telegraph called it one of the worst defeats in Rangers’ 145-year history.
Rangers coach Pedro Caixinha told the Guardian what happened was a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” and vowed to continue his work to improve Rangers, which finished third in Scotland last year, 39 points behind first-place Celtic.
[Rangers travel home.]Caixinha: "Pedro wants out!"
"No, Scotland needs laughter." pic.twitter.com/VA356dE6el
— Simpsons SPFL (@SimpsonsSPFL) July 5, 2017
Things got worse Wednesday when the supreme court ruled in favor of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in a suit against Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts. Though Rangers was ruled to have paid more than £47 million in earnings to players, coaches and directors in the 2000s, the club won’t see further punishment because the club is now owned by a different company than the one that forced its relegation six years ago.
Scottish soccer has been pretty miserable for a while now. There were hopes with Rangers returning to the top flight the Scottish Premiership would regain some relevancy.
Next week, Aberdeen will compete in the second of Europa League qualifying round while Celtic faces Northern Ireland club Linfield in the second qualifying round for the Champions League.
Hopefully, for the country’s sake, one of them does something half decent.
But we don’t suggest you bet on it.