Rangers recorded the worst campaign in Champions League history when they lost 3-1 to Ajax in their final group game.
Rangers needed a five-goal sweep to beat Ajax into third place and the Europa League, knowing a two-goal defeat would leave them with the worst record in Europe.
Goals from Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Francisco Conceicao made it six straight defeats for the Ibrox men as a James Tavernier penalty failed to stop them recording a minus-20 goal difference.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side became the first Scottish side to lose all their group games in Europe’s top competition, while Ajax finished third to secure a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
How Rangers ended dismal campaign with unwanted record
Assembling a squad was a challenge in itself for Van Bronckhorst, who suspended midfielder John Lundstram and injured nine players – including defenders Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz from the weekend’s win over Aberdeen.
Left-back Borna Barisic and veteran midfielders Steve Davis and Scott Arfield were the replacements.
Former Gers defender Calvin Bassey was in a strong Ajax side that struck first and early to dampen early home optimism.
In the fourth minute, ending a slick attack down the left, Kudus set up Berghuis to beat Gers goalkeeper Allan McGregor from the spot.
It was already looking ominous for Rangers – McGregor had to jump back to grab a Berghuis lob from under his crossbar – but the understrength home side eventually settled themselves and went in search of an equaliser.
Worst campaign in Champions League history
- Rangers are the first Scottish team to go through the group without a point.
- Dinamo Zagreb previously held the unwanted worst record with a minus 19 goal difference from season 2011-12 – a tally equaled by Viktoria Plzen this term but eclipsed by the Scottish Premier League side.
In the 13th minute, the covering Bassey pushed a Fashion Sakala header off the line after good work by winger Ryan Kent to get in his cross from the left.
However, another lapse in concentration allowed Ajax to extend their lead, this time Owen Wijndal providing for Kudus – whose deflected shot came off teenage defender Leon King to beat McGregor.
The goalkeeper pulled off a good save from Steven Bergwijn minutes later and the first shout of frustration from the stands came soon after when Kudus fired an effort just wide of the far post.
More subdued boos greeted the half-time whistle, but there was an attempt by supporters to rally their side at the start of the second half, although a comeback was highly unlikely.
Kudus had the ball in the net in the 55th minute after a great move, but the Swedish referee, Glenn Nyberg, ruled it out for offside after a VAR test.
Just before the hour mark, Glen Kamara, Alfredo Morelos and Scott Wright came on for Davis, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman, but Ajax, backed by a large and vocal traveling support, remained in control.
A fantastic shot on the turn by Arfield in the 70th minute was tipped over the bar by underrated Ajax keeper Remko Pasveer, but the corner was saved.
Morelos capitalized on a mistake by Pasveer in the 84th minute, but failed to hit the target.
Moments later, Rangers substitute Rabbi Matondo, on for Kent, was brought down by Edson Alvarez inside the box and Tavernier fired home the penalty.
However, Conceicao, only on the pitch for a minute, fired in from close range and referee Nyberg soon blew his whistle to signal the end of a campaign that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons for the Glasgow club.
What the manager said
Giovanni van Bronckhorst wants his players to learn from a tough campaign:
“You know the gap is there, but you don’t want to concede so many goals against you.
“If you see the goals we conceded in many games in this campaign, especially at home against Liverpool, we struggled in those moments and it’s a big learning experience for us.”
Rangers have three more Scottish Premiership games before the World Cup. They travel to St Johnstone on Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick off 12pm Rangers then take on Hearts on Wednesday 9 November; kick off 19:45.
Their final game before the tournament is on Saturday 12 November when they travel to St Mirren, live on Sky Sports; kick off 12.30pm.
Ajax also have three more Eredivisie matches before the World Cup tournament, against PSV Eindhoven, Vitesse Arnhem and Emmen.