Rangers v Lyon: Can Steven Gerrard’s side rekindle spirit of famous 2007 win?



The Stade de Gerland scoreboard
The Stade de Gerland scoreboard highlights Rangers’ dream result over a star-studded Lyon back in 2007
Venue: Ibrox, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 16 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live updates & analysis on Sportsound and BBC Sport website & app.

It has been just under 14 years since arguably one of the biggest European results by a Scottish side.

Rangers travelled to face a star-studded Lyon in October 2007 for a Champions League group stage encounter as underdogs, but pulled off a stunning 3-0 win.

The sides go head-to-head for the first time since that campaign at Ibrox on Thursday, with Steven Gerrard’s men hoping to rekindle the spirit of Walter Smith’s side.

Here, BBC Scotland revisits that famous night in France with former Rangers right-back Alan Hutton.

Stuttgart victory builds Rangers belief

The 2007 summer transfer window ended with Lyon losing a number of their prized assets – including Eric Abidal and Florent Malouda, who departed for Barcelona and Chelsea, respectively.

But a talented squad featured the likes of Brazilian set-piece master Juninho, Italy full-back Fabio Grosso and a young Karim Benzema.

The Ibrox men had already shown promise in their early European excursions, coming through qualifying against FK Zeta and Red Star Belgrade before fighting back to secure an opening group win at home to Stuttgart.

“It’s something that lives long on my memory,” said Hutton. “We had such a good result against Stuttgart, it built confidence.

“Lyon were champions that year. They had quality players and we knew it was going to be a tough task, but we had self belief. Being young, I was fearless. You respect these guys, but you wanted to show that you deserved to be on the stage with them.”

‘One of my best moments in a Rangers jersey’

Scotland’s iconic win in Paris weeks before had Rangers dreaming they could also defy the odds in France. Those dreams started becoming a reality 23 minutes in when Lee McCulloch bulleted in a header to spark bedlam among the Rangers support.

The away end would go from delirium to disbelief after the break as a rocket of a finish from Daniel Cousin from a Hutton pass was quickly followed by a Rangers third from DaMarcus Beasley.

“You try and silence the crowd and keep possession,” said Hutton. “I remember teams coming out that season and saying we were playing anti-football. It sticks in my mind.

“But we did show that when we attacked we did it with purpose. I remember I had a driving run down the right side and got a corner for the first goal. It silenced the crowd and allowed us to build momentum.

“To score those goals just after half-time really settled us down. You’re thinking ‘I can’t see them scoring four’.”

Despite surges of Lyon pressure and two trademark Juninho strikes cannoning off Allan McGregor’s crossbar, the visitors saw the game out with a clean sheet to go along with their three-goals – a winning margin even manager Smith admitted he could not have envisaged pre-match.

Daniel Cousin goal v Lyon
Daniel Cousin (right) rifles in Rangers’ second goal

“It was one of my best moments in a Rangers jersey,” said former Rangers, Spurs and Scotland full-back Hutton.

“Everything came together for me. Walter Smith allowed me to go and express myself from within games and get forward to try and create opportunities. To be slightly involved in the first goal but to be a part of the second was great.

“We were massive underdogs as fourth seeds, they were the big hitters. I think they were just stunned and would never have foreseen that happening.”

Every cloud…

One point from back-to-back games against Barcelona and a trip to Stuttgart set up a winner-takes-all showdown against Lyon at Ibrox in the final group fixture.

But the French side got their revenge, reversing the scoreline they suffered three months prior, thanks to an early goal from France winger Sidney Govou and a late Benzema brace.

While defeat ended Rangers’ Champions League dream, a third-place finish ensured passage to the Uefa Cup.

Smith’s side would go on to enjoy more famous European nights as they progressed all the way to the final, where they were beaten at the last hurdle by Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester.

Can Gerrard’s men roll back years?

Lyon are now in the shadow of glory in France – having gone 13 years without a league title – and perhaps do not carry the same calibre of player as yesteryear, but the Ligue 1 side still boast a tasty-looking squad.

Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele will be absent through injury but highly-rated midfielder Houssem Aouar and summer signings Jerome Boateng from Bayern Munich and Xherdan Shaqiri from Liverpool add to a formidable side on paper.

After a shaky start to the season, Rangers have five wins from their last six games – with Saturday’s comeback victory at St Johnstone putting Gerrard’s men top of the Scottish Premiership.

As for Lyon, the French visitors currently sit seventh in their domestic league with just two wins from their opening five.

“Some of Rangers’ best performances [under Steven Gerrard] have come on those Thursday nights,” added Hutton. “He’ll want the same get up and go.

“[Allan McGregor] is like a fine wine, he keeps getting better. Every year he tells me this is the last year, but he keeps rolling himself out there making big moments with huge saves.

“He’ll have to have a big performance. They’ll have their big moments, but going the other way, Rangers will need the likes of Alfredo Morelos to be on top form as well.”

With a packed Ibrox, might another memorable European night be on the horizon?

Can you name Rangers’ team from their 2007 win over Lyon?

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