GLASGOW (AFP) – Rangers defied UEFA by playing God save the King before being undone by a red card to James Sands in a 3-0 defeat to Napoli at Ibrox on Wednesday.
The Scottish club ignored a decision by European football’s governing body to reject their request to use the national anthem ahead of kick-off as the late Queen Elizabeth II was honoured by a giant display from fans.
However, Rangers’ return to the Champions League after a 12-year absence is quickly turning into a nightmare as a week on from losing their opening group game 4-0 to Ajax, Napoli ran riot against 10 men in the second half.
The game turned 10 minutes into the second period when USA international Sands was shown a second yellow card for hauling down Giovanni Simeone inside the area.
Remarkably, Rangers’ 40-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved two Piotr Zielinski penalties after a retake was ordered for encroachment when Matteo Politano swept home the rebound from the first spot-kick.
Politano himself took charge and made no mistake when Napoli were awarded a third penalty 22 minutes from time for handball by Borna Barisic.
“Politano demonstrated personality in taking the second penalty,” said Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti.
“Zielinski also showed great strength of spirit. For me he was the best player on the field.”
As Rangers then pushed for a route back into the game, the impressive Italians opened them up to back up their 4-1 win over Liverpool last week.
A slick team move teed up Giacomo Raspadori to slot into the far corner before Tanguy Ndombele pounced on an error by Glen Kamara to round off the scoring.
“I don’t think we deserved a 3-0 loss,” said Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.