Sport: Karel Geraerts in surprise Rangers claim as Union SG boss insists the tie was lost LAST WEEK

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Karel Geraerts admitted Union Saint-Gilloise had already blown their Champions League chances before even setting foot in Glasgow. The Belgians were swept away by Gio van Bronckhorst’s ramped-up Rangers as goals from James Tavernier, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman overturned last week’s limp loss in Leuven.

But Geraerts reckoned his team’s hopes were already up in smoke after keeper Jon McLaughlin pulled off a crucial stop to prevent striker Dante Vanzeir giving his side a crucial 3-0 first-leg lead at the Den Dreef Stadion. Geraerts said: “It was lost last week for us because it was only 2-0 in the home game.

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“At that moment we played better and had chances to score a third goal. So we knew when we came to the away game in this great stadium with this magnificent crowd that it would be hard. We were very well organised I think, we didn’t give away chances and everything was close until just before half-time there was an individual mistake from one of our players and the second half was the same. I don’t think we gave too many chances to them, but we gave some opportunities away and against a team like this they have big qualities.”

Union looked to be doing well in their bid to frustrate Gers until Siebe van der Heyden’s inexplicable handball just before half-time gave Tavernier the chance to kick-start Gers’ rescue mission from the spot. That sent the noise levels soaring round Ibrox but Geraerts reckons it was Rangers European nous that made the difference instead of the pumped-up punters.

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“Until that moment everything was under control,” he said when asked about the penalty incident. “We were aware of the first 20 minutes because everybody announced that they would start really hard. We controlled everything very well and just in front of half-time we give away a goal.

“The second half was the same scenario. We came out good and the second half gave the opponent more confidence and when you see the third goal there was a communication problem with the defence.

“I think the players managed the atmosphere really well mentally. Like I said they defended well, they were organised really well.

“In the last 10 minutes of the first half we had the ball and Rangers had some easy losses we might have made better choices to keep the ball and keep it away from our goal. But we didn’t do that well so that is a lesson for the future.

“We were not blown away here, but we gave them some goals today and that’s the difference between us and a team like Rangers which has the experience.”

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