February 11, 2019

Rangers Demolish ESS to Send Shockwaves Through Alkass

Rangers progressed to the semi-finals of Al Kass 2019 with a performance that strongly suggests they have the talent to become champions. Ecoile Sportive du Sahel – who had been so impressive in their opening 3-2 defeat of Bayern Munich - were simply blown away in windy conditions that the Tunisians struggled to adapt to.

The Glasgow side adopted a positive approach from the first whistle, with Kai Kennedy going close early on, firing a low shot from the edge of the area that keeper Ahmed Slimen only just got his hand to.

Both Kennedy and Nathan Young-Coombes were looking lively, and when Ahmed Guermiti hacked the latter down with a cynical challenge that somehow avoided a yellow, it was clear that the ESS backline was struggling to cope. Rangers were certainly not intimidated by the physical challenge, and right back Harris O’Connor was the first to go into the referee’s book for a similar late tackle.

The Scots were beginning to take control, and should have gone ahead on 20 minutes when Arron Lyall showed great close control in the area before pulling the ball back to Leon Thomson, whose first time effort rolled narrowly and agonisingly wide. Thomson, who has only just turned 15 years of age, caught the eye throughout.

The ESS defenders were simply unable to cope with the attacking threat of YoungCoombes, who finally broke the deadlock on 38 minutes, turning on the edge of the area to power home a first-time shot that gave Slimen no chance.

Rangers were in danger of running riot, yet were almost pegged back just before the break when Koussay Rejeb got away down the right, and Lewis Budinauckus had to be alert to rush out of his area and clear the danger.

With 45 minutes played, Tunisian coach made the highly unorthodox decision to make two substitutions. The new additions spent a matter of seconds on the field of play before the referee blew for half time, and their impact on the second half was minimal.

Normal service was resumed straight after the restart. Kennedy battled through a series of challenges to supply Young-Coombes 20 yards out, and the effervescent forward lifted the ball over Slimen to double his tally.

A minute later, Rangers put the result beyond doubt when Ciaran Dickson supplied Lyall, who took a touch before firing into the bottom left corner to make it 3-0.

To the credit of ESS, they continued to compete, and captain Mohamed Fallah’s powerful run and shot through the middle almost brought an immediate response, only for the highly impressive Budinauckas to tip the ball over. However, any hopes of a comeback were swiftly extinguished, as Rangers poured forward once more. Matthew Henderson’s powerful shot was saved and Young Coombes was first to the rebound to complete his hat-trick.

Mindful of greater tests ahead, Rangers coach David McCallum wisely withdrew Young-Coombes for Christopher McKee on the hour mark. However, there was no let up in Rangers’ approach, and they were five goals to the good soon after, when Lyall skipped down the right before crossing low to leave Mckee with the simplest of finishes.

With 17 minutes remaining, ESS were reduced to 10 men when Nassim Khadher was dismissed for raking his studs down the back of McKee’s leg, a cynical foul picked up by VAR. The Glasgow striker showed no ill effects and soon helped himself to a second – Rangers’ sixth – after Alex Lowry chested the ball down and hammered a half volley which Slimen spilled for McKee to tap home. And, astonishingly, there was still time for him to complete his hat-trick, poaching another from close range as Rangers confirmed their utter domination.

The 7-0 scoreline could have been even greater had it not been for the heroics of Slimen in the Tunisian goal. He made a series of great saves, and was hardly at fault for any of the goals.

Rangers have strength in depth throughout their squad, as evidenced by McKee coming on as a substitute and bagging three goals. Their defence is solid, their keeper looks highly assured and, in Kai Kennedy, the Glaswegians have a midfield fulcrum who effortlessly dictates play. Meanwhile, their striking options are genuinely terrifying.

The winners of the Real Madrid and Kashiwa Reysol match will face Rangers in the semifinal. After this performance, the young Glaswegians will fear no one.