Aribo on target as Rangers win seven-goal thriller against Royal Antwerp

The Super Eagles midfielder started the party at the Bosuilstadion with his opening strike before the Gers completed a thrilling comeback

Joe Aribo opened his goal account in the Uefa Europa League this season with the opening goal in Rangers’ 4-3 comeback win over Royal Antwerp on Thursday.

Aribo broke the deadlock in Antwerp in the 38th minute, courtesy of Alfredo Morelos’ assist but the hosts turned the game around in the closing stages of the first-half.

Felipe Avenatti first cancelled out Aribo’s opener in the 45th minute before Lior Refaelov put them ahead in the stoppage time.

After the restart, Borna Barisic equalised for Steven Gerrard‘s side just before the hour-mark with his strike from the penalty spot, but it did not take long for Antwerp to regain their lead with Martin Hongla’s 66th-minute goal.

Rangers showed resilience towards the end of the encounter and they grabbed a vital win on the road, thanks to Ryan Kent’s 83rd-minute equaliser and Barisic’s 90th-minute winner from the spot.

Aribo played from the start to finish while Nigeria defender Leon Balogun came off the bench to replace injured James Tavernier in the 24th minute.

Cameroon duo Hongla and Frank Boya were in action for Royal Antwerp but they were dealt a huge blow after Senegal’s Abdoulaye Seck was given marching orders for a second yellow card in the 88th minute.

Thursday’s result gives Rangers an advantage ahead of the reverse fixture at the Ibrox Stadium on February 25. So far this season, Steven Gerrard’s men have only lost one of their last 40 matches across all competitions – 33 wins and six draws.

With South Africa’s Bongani Zungu dropped because of Covid-19 rules breach, Aribo and Balogun will be expected to help Rangers maintain their unbeaten run in the Premiership when they host Dundee United on Sunday.

They sit at the top of the table with a 15-point gap above second-placed Celtic.

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