Giovanni van Bronckhorst slammed his ‘sloppy’ Rangers players for a shock defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise — and warned them a huge improvement is needed in the second leg if they are to avoid crashing out of the Champions League.
The Belgian side triumphed easily over last season’s Europa League runners-up with goals in either half from Teddy Teuma and a controversial Dante Vanzeir penalty.
The spot-kick for a handball by Connor Goldson was awarded after a VAR check and was extremely harsh on the Ibrox defender who also received a booking.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst slammed his ‘sloppy’ Rangers players for a shock defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise
But Van Bronckhorst admitted his listless side were lucky to escape with a two-goal deficit and knows they need to be much better if they are to turn the tie around at home next Tuesday.
The Rangers boss said: ‘I am very disappointed. There is so much at stake this month as we try to qualify for the Champions League and this performance was below par.
‘We were sloppy, we lost too many balls, we lost duels and slowly Union became better and better.
‘We didn’t react well after (the opening goal) and were never really in the game.
The Belgian side took the lead over last season’s Europa League runners-up through Teddy Teuma
‘We made a lot of mistakes and we are a little bit lucky it’s only 2-0, although I was surprised the referee gave a penalty.
‘We are still in the tie. We are capable of making up the 2-0 difference at Ibrox on Tuesday but we need to concentrate on our performance. If we have the same performance like we had today, we have no chance next week.’
The ball was deflected off Goldson’s hand from close range, with the defender knowing little about it.
The penalty award looked at odds with the law that exempts handball if an arm is already extended when there is no expectation of the ball coming at a player from a team-mate.
A controversial Dante Vanzeir penalty – awarded after a VAR check – then sealed the win
‘When you have so much at stake for all the clubs in the competition, you want the right decision,’ said Van Bronckhorst.
‘He (Goldson) couldn’t do anything else with the deflection and the handball, but the penalty was given and they scored. But the most important thing for me is that we reflect on our own game.
‘We need to change it around on Tuesday. We need to change it big time and the performance needs to be better.’
He hopes to have winger Ryan Kent back fit but confirmed John Souttar is being examined for an unspecified injury that prevented him travelling to Belgium.
The Dutchman also warned his side a huge improvement is needed in the second leg
Ultimately, the manager was at a loss for his team’s poor performance.
He said: ‘We played the system as we always do and a lot of players on the pitch played in the Europa League final. But we looked like we weren’t comfortable on the ball and that surprised me. We can be much more effective in our play when we have the ball and we have to show that next week.
‘Defensively at times we didn’t look strong, losing balls too much unlike we normally do.
‘But I’m confident if we change those things around we will have a much better performance next week.
Ultimately, the manager was at a loss for his team’s poor performance in Belgium
‘My first feeling is we gave the game away today. The score should never have been 2-0.
‘If we had a performance at the levels we normally reach, I’m sure the score would have been different.
‘We have to analyse the performance and improve. It’s needed for Saturday (at home to Kilmarnock) and for the second leg on Tuesday.’