Rangers progress after Legia fans unfurl banner featuring Pope John Paul II

Alfredo Morelos sparked jubilant scenes at Ibrox as his injury-time winner against Legia Warsaw sent Rangers into the Europa League group stage.

Eyes and ears were on the Govan stands as much as the action on the pitch after Uefa issued Rangers with a double rap for sectarian singing.

But the biggest roar of the night was reserved for Morelos as he sealed a last-gasp 1-0 win which sees Steven Gerrard’s team repeat their feat of making it all the way through four rounds to qualify.

And Legia will likely now find themselves in trouble with European football’s governing body after the travelling Polish support set off a spectacular pyrotechnic display that temporarily halted the game with the field shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke.

Rangers were forced to close off 3,000 seats as a result of the sectarian chants that marred their opening qualifier with St Joseph’s, while the threat of a more severe punishment – including a full stadium closure – is yet to be decided after more chants were aired in Warsaw last week. The Legia fans did their best to spark a response from the home support as they unfurled a banner apparently depicting the late Pope John Paul II, himself a Pole.

But the home faithful kept the songbook clean as they responded to Gerrard’s call to pump up the noise.

Legia Warsaw fans

Legia Warsaw fans unfurl a flag of Pope John Paul II at Ibrox. Photograph: Malcolm Mackenzie/ProSports/Shutterstock

Earlier the Scottish champions, Celtic, enjoyed a comfortable second leg, beating AIK 4-1 in Sweden to go through 6-1 on aggregate.

James Forrest netted a brilliant counter-attack goal in the 17th minute and Mikey Johnston forced an own goal from the AIK goalkeeper after superb wing play 60 seconds after Sebastian Larsson levelled from the penalty spot. Christopher Jullien and the substitute Lewis Morgan both scored their first Celtic goals from close range in the closing stages after the visitors had controlled the second half.

The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, said: “Outstanding, the whole team, the subs who came on made a contribution. I couldn’t have envisaged us playing so well. Going forward we were a dream at times. To score four goals away from home, and it could have been more, is brilliant. We looked strong, we played some brilliant football, we defended resolutely when we needed to. I can’t ask for any more from the players at the minute. Apart from one half against Cluj we have made an outstanding start to the season and we have got some big games now to look forward to.

“The first goal was a beautiful goal, great interplay from Jamesy and Odsonne, and an outstanding composed finish. Jamesy was magnificent in everything he did, on the ball, off the ball.

“The front four, [Ryan] Christie, Johnston, Odsonne and Jamesy, looked very powerful, looked a threat, looked fit. And we kept going; there was a real thirst for goals, which is the way we want to play.”

Linfield’s attempt to reach the group stages ended in frustration in Azerbaijan as they lost to Qarabag on away goals. Qarabag – who were trailing 3-2 from the first leg in Belfast – took a sixth-minute lead through Jaime Romero. Abdellah Zoubir’s late goal made it 4-3 to Qarabag and, despite Shayne Lavery’s injury-time goal, the Northern Irishmen went out with the tie level at 4-4.


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