Rangers earned top spot in their Europa League group ahead of Benfica with a comfortable 2-0 win away at Lech Poznan.
Goals from Cedric Itten and Ianis Hagi sealed victory in Poland, and a £900,000 bonus for topping Group D after Benfica drew 2-2 with Standard Liège. It also means Steven Gerrard’s side will be seeded in the last-32 draw, avoiding heavyweights like Manchester United, Arsenal, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen and Roma.
Having secured qualification with last week’s win over Standard, Gerrard made seven changes to the team that thrashed Ross County on Sunday. Bongani Zungu and 19-year-old Nathan Patterson came in to make their first European starts alongside Itten, who fired the visitors ahead after 31 minutes.
The Swiss forward pounced on a defensive mistake, brilliantly skipping beyond Djordje Crnomarkovic before drilling an unstoppable drive past keeper Filip Bednarek at his near post. That helped settle Rangers after a nervous start, with Lubomir Satka missed the best chance for Poznan as he put his free header over Jon McLaughin’s crossbar.Ianis Hagi should have made it two just before the break as he galloped onto Itten’s flick but the Romanian did not have the pace to shrug off Satka, who recovered well to get a block in. Hagi did get on target with 18 minutes left to seal victory, as Connor Goldson’s header hit the underside of the bar, bouncing onto the line before Hagi headed home.
Napoli and Real Sociedad both claimed their places in the last 32 as a 1-1 draw at the newly renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona allowed both teams to progress from Group F.
Piotr Zielinski put the hosts ahead in the 35th minute but Willian José grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser for the La Liga high-flyers. A draw would not have been enough for Sociedad had AZ Alkmaar managed to win, but they lost 2-1 at Rijeka. Goals from Luka Menalo and Ivan Tomecak won it for the Croatian side as AZ paid the price for Jesper Karlsson’s dismissal.
In Group A, Switzerland’s Young Boys produced an extraordinary late comeback to deny Cluj a place in the last 32. The Romanian side went ahead in the 84th minute, but Jean-Pierre Nsame and Gianluca Gaudino both struck in stoppage time to send the 10-man hosts through instead of their nine-man opponents.
Elsewhere in the early games, Leon Bailey scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen beat Slavia Prague 4-0 to take top spot in Group C, and PSV Eindhoven pipped Granada to first place in Group E after a 4-0 win over Omonia. The La Liga side go through as runners-up after a goalless draw at PAOK Salonika.