Rangers suffered another late collapse against Benfica as Steven Gerrard’s side missed out on the chance to plant one foot in the Europa League’s last 32. They looked to be on course for a famous scalp in what would have been the Ibrox club’s 150th European win after Scott Arfield and Kemar Roofe put them ahead.
But just as they did in Lisbon three weeks ago, Rangers failed to hold on to their lead and were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Jorge Jesus’ substitutions made the difference as Goncalo Ramos and Pizzi climbed off the bench to snatch a point with two goals in three minutes.
Rangers needed to beat Benfica and hope Standard Liège did the same to Lech Poznan to seal their place in the knockout rounds with two games to spare. While the Belgians held up their side of the bargain by beating the Poles, Rangers slipped up. However, they can still clinch qualification by beating Liège when they visit Ibrox next Thursday.
Napoli overcame Croatian side Rijeka 2-0 in their first match since the death of Diego Maradona, the club’s greatest and most popular player.
On an emotionally-charged evening, Napoli took the field wearing No 10 shirts with Maradona’s name emblazoned on the back, while a photograph of the Argentinian stared down from the electronic scoreboard.
Banners showing images of Maradona, who led Napoli to two Serie A titles during seven extraordinary seasons in the 1980s, were placed around the San Paolo Stadium.
“From yesterday, when we went to the hotel, you could sense that a different mood had come over the city,” the Napoli manager, Gennaro Gattuso, said. “It was a great loss but Diego will never die. He is a legend, from another planet.”
Although spectators were not allowed into the ground, fans gathered outside chanting “Diego, Diego” and other anthems. Hundreds of blue and white Napoli scarves were tied to railings and flowers, children’s pictures, church candles and even a bottle of wine were laid out along the pavement in a makeshift shrine.
Napoli dominated and created several chances before the Rijeka full-back Armando Anastasio, under pressure from Matteo Politano, turned Piotr Zielinski’s shot into his own net five minutes before half-time.
Hirving Lozano made the result safe in the 75th minute, controlling Lorenzo Insigne’s pass before slotting the ball past Ivan Nevistic to leave Napoli top of Group F with nine points from four games, two ahead of AZ Alkmaar and Real Sociedad.
The Serie A leaders Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Lille after a well-worked Jonathan Bamba goal cancelled out Samu Castillejo’s effort. The result leaves Lille on eight points at the top of Group H, a point ahead of Milan with two more games to play. Qualification is still not assured after Sparta Prague moved up to six points with victory over Celtic.
Roma secured qualification from Group A with a 2-0 victory at CFR Cluj of Romania, thanks to an own goal and Jordan Veretout penalty.