Rangers to face RB Leipzig in Europa League semi final but Germans suffer key first leg absence

Rangers will face RB Leipzig of Germany if they progress to the Europa League semi-finals.

And it means the Ibrox fans will return to the city five years since their winter friendly that still lives long in the memory if they can see off Braga.

Thursday’s early kick-off was finely poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg and it was the Serie A side Atalanta started who brighter with the Bergamo home crowd right up for it.

But the visitors who took the lead on the night and in the tie when Christopher Nkunku underlined his credentials as one of the most exciting players in the world right now.

Konrad Laimer rushed down the right in a slick breakaway before squaring to the France cap who showed composure to fire past Juan Musso.

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In the second half Atalanta thought they were due a penalty but Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz stuck to his guns and refused to give a penalty for handball despite being summoned to the VAR monitor.

Leipzig survived a scare when Hans Hateboer missed a glorious chance at the back post and that came after a booking for key defender Willi Orban, who will miss the first leg of the semi.

Musso then wiped out Nkunku in the area and he added a second from the spot to seal their place.

If Rangers can overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit and get past Braga in Thursday night’s play-off they face a return to Saxony that will show how far the club has come in the years since Steven Gerrard took over as boss.

In January 2017, with both the German and Scottish top flights hunkering down for a winter break, Gers traveled to the Saxony city for a trip that for many fans ranks alongside the best away days.

It was a friendly, the mercury plummeted far below freezing and the scoreline read 4-0 to the hosts.

But the spirit of the 8,000 traveling fans remained unbroken and this time they can return in a Europa League semi-final, with the Germans playing at home in the first leg.

Now it’s all eyes on Ibrox to see if the players can book their place alongside the Bundesliga side.

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