Rangers had prepared for penalties, Giovanni van Bronckhorst admitted, but by the end of the Europa League final shootout they were defeated, their dream of a first European trophy in 50 years ended by Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ryan Kent had what the Rangers head coach described as a “big, big” opportunity to win the trophy in the 118th minute before Aaron Ramsey missed the decisive spot-kick following a 1-1 draw in Seville. That left Van Bronckhorst likening the disappointment to what he had felt after losing the 2010 World Cup final and vowing that Rangers will do everything can to end the season with victory in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.
“If you play in a final and lose it hurts,” Van Bronckhorst said. “It went all the way to penalties and it’s a big disappointment. You’re so close to winning a trophy but that’s football. If you play finals you will have memories that stay with vou forever if you win. But if you lose it will hurt a lot. I lost a World Cup final, the biggest disappointment there is. But we have a big game on Saturday and then next season we have to start all over again.”
“It’s not going to be easy to get them ready because emotionally we are hurt,” he added. “You see a lot of subs [were used]: it was tough physically, the players gave everything, they made every effort. As a coach that’s all you can ask. We had to sub some players because they were struggling physically. We have played a couple of times after just two days recovery. We had the biggest game of the year tonight and Saturday we have to be ready, but we will do it. We will be ready to finish with the trophy.”
Van Bronckhorst admitted that one of the players he had been forced to withdraw was Borna Barisic, who had been lined up to take a penalty. He also said that he had put on Ramsey and Kemar Roofe on in order to take a spot kick. Roofe scored his, but Ramsay’s was saved, handing Eintracht an advantage that would prove decisive.
“We prepared well the penalties,” the said. “[Ramsey] had to go and [take one] and he is one of the first takers. We trained the penalty kicks. Some players don’t need it. You want players who take penalties and are comfortable. We had a good few of players who wanted to take a penalty and others who didn’t.
“We had our list but we also had to adjust it because of the subs. Aaron of course is disappointed but he took responsibility to take the penalty and you can make it or you can miss it. Unfortunately for us, he didn’t make it.” “You do everything you can to win it and with penalties it’s a lottery and tonight we were not on the good [lucky] side.”