RANGERS’ hopes of lifting the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup are over despite a supreme effort against a hugely impressive Rapid Vienna side in this morning’s semi-final.
Trailing 3-0 at half-time, Gers pulled the game back to 3-2 and then 4-3, with only a pair of outstanding saves from Nikolas Polster in goal for the Viennese club denying the young Light Blues a leveler.
Gers began the match brightly, with Lewis Mayo shooting just wide of the target early on, but then Rapid took over control of the game.
Some loose defensive play from Gers left goalkeeper Lewis Budinauckas stranded out of his goal allowing Lion Schuster the chance to open the scoring with a guided effort from distance.
Rangers tried to respond by committing men forward, but that allowed Yusuf Demir the chance to score at the end of a break for the Austrains.
Dapo Mebude and Danny Finlayson had efforts blocked before right on half-time, Rapid made it three with Melih Ibrahimoglu finishing off a fine solo run.
Half-time gave Gers the chance to regroup, and within a minute of the restart, they had pulled two goals back.
Lewis Mayo grabbed the first as he turned home a Stephen Kelly cutback before from kick-off, Gers intercepted and Dapo Mebude volleyed a fine effort home.
A further blow was dealt to the Light Blues with Daniel Markl making it 4-2 with the aid of a deflection, but again Mebude scored straight from kick-off, running forward and finishing well into the bottom corner.
Somehow, Gers were denied a leveler with Polster first making a good stop from Josh McPake, but as that deflected off his defender, the goalkeeper incredibly rose to get a hand to the ball to prevent the equaliser.
He was then called on again to make a great stop from Palmer low to his right, while at the other end, with Gers chasing, Jordan Houston had taken over in goal and he got back to tip the ball over the bar as Rapid again threatened from distance.
But it wasn’t to be for Gers this time despite their very best efforts.