In what was a whirlwind of a game, Rangers substitutes proved again to be the saviors for the Scottish giants as they came back to beat Corinthians, 4-2, after a four-goal, second-half flourish. Down 2-0 at half, despite having much of the run of play, it looked as if the Rangers might see their first Florida Cup loss. But the second half proved opposite. You wouldn't have known Rangers were down as the Scots put the Brazilians right on their heels and never looked back.
Rangers Manager Graeme Murty was well pleased with his team’s performance despite being 2-0 down at halftime.
“I thought boys played well in the first half. Some good combination play, movement and quality chances created,” Murty said. “Just thought we were a bit more forceful off the ball in the second half, more aggressive, that made the difference”
Rangers made five changes from Thursday’s lineup, including two players who had great success, Josh Windass, Daniel Candeias, and Michael O’Halloran. Also Eucio Dalcio was moved out of right back on up to wight winger.
It was a very different look in the 4-2-3-1, as Niko Krancjar was pushed to defensive midfielder instead of the No. 10 role.
STARTING XI (4-2-3-1): Foderingham; Tavernier, D. Wilson, Cardoso, John; Holt, Kranjcar; O’Halloran, Windass, Dalcio; Herrera.— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) January 13, 2018
Subs: Kelly, Hodson, Bates, A. Wilson, Goss, Halliday, Murphy, Candeias, Morelos, Atakayi, Barjonas.
➡️ Full team news story: https://t.co/bwXy9PWPby
Corinthians kept only three players from Wednesday’s match against PSV but stayed with their 4-3-3 formation with goalkeeper Cassius, defenders (left to right) Guilherme Romão, Pedro Henrique, Fabian Balbuena, and Fagner, midfielders Marquinhos Gabriel, Rodriguinho, and Jadson, and an attacking line of Angel Romero, Colin Kazim-Richards, and Clayson.
The match started off in a usual manner, with both teams feeling each other out, seeing what worked, identifying positions, nothing out of the ordinary. Both teams looked to possess the ball with constant ball movement. The plan for Rangers this afternoon looked to be to clog up the middle so that Corinthians’ pyramid in the middle couldn't find the necessary space.
Additionally, Rangers continued their high press tactics, not allowing any breathing room for Corinthians, with six players in the Corinthians’ half at all times when they were attempting to build out of the back. Corinthians in turn opted for the counter, allowing Rangers to have their end of the field and employing a half field trap that ultimately proved more effective as the Scots were forced into playing just slightly more directly than they would have wanted to.
After the first five minutes, the players began to settle in and saw both teams began looking to play quick combinations in order to break each other down. It was Corinthians that found the first opportunity of the match when a corner off the right side was cleared to the top of the penalty area, where Romão fired a half-volley screamer to the crossbar that nearly had the Brazilians up early. It appeared that goalkeeper Wes Foderingham might have got a fingertip to divert the ball but it was a nerve racking moment for the Scots.
For the next 10 or so minutes, Rangers began stringing together over 20+ passes to slow the game a bit and get back in control after that Romão sequence. Rangers found a couple of chances, the best coming from Thursday night’s hero, Windass, as he shot from eight yards out but it was saved by Cassio.
Play continued in Rangers’ favor as Corinthians had a couple of scrambles in the area that ultimately ended up in no harm. And it looked like the Scots had a goal coming their way with much of the run of play until Corinthians got back on the attack in a quick flourish of chances that eventually led to a beautiful combination goal.
In the 33rd minute, a long throw found Kazim at the top of the area after some missed clearances. Kazim sent the ball looping to the goal line where Jadson lobbed a ball back to Rodriguinho sitting at the top of the six, for a clean first-time strike, putting up Corinthians 1-0.
Rangers again took control of the game with multiple half chances for the next few minutes. Krancjar had a free kick opportunity that unfortunately ended up offside. Krancjar continued to maestro the match, giving Windass and Gomes more than a few great penetrating passes only to see nothing come of it.
Then, just as they did before, Corinthians found their way right back into the goal despite it appearing Rangers would equalize. If it was one thing that Corinthians were immensely successful at all half, it was the quick counter off Rangers’ spot kicks and crosses. An easily claimed cross by Cassio, led to a couple of long passes that found Kazim at the right side of the area. Kazim patiently waited out the defender and sent a hard, low shot to the bottom left corner that appeared to go through the legs of the defender, leading Corinthians to a 2-0 advantage in the 40th.
Rangers continued searching, and Krancjar continued with some great passing. But they couldn't find the final ball despite some scrambling defense by the Brazilians. They had an opportunity for a corner in stoppage but the referee blew the whistle before the kick could take place.
As with most of the tournament, we saw wholesale changes on both sides to start the second half. Rangers made seven substitutions, while Corinthians changed their entire side short of the keeper.
Corinthians came right out of the gate in the first 10 as their best opportunity came from junior player, Lucca, who streaked down the right side and played a perfect ball four yards away from goal. Unfortunately no Brazilian was anywhere near the goal area and it left what would turn out to be a crucial missed opportunity.
Rangers found their rhythm, as they have all tournament, in the possession passing game and constantly frustrated the Brazilians with crisp passing that was very much there in the first half, but the difference was that the substitutes were much less adept at handling the style of play and were constantly stretched out.
This frustration led to a few early fouls off the left side that gave newly signed Sean Goss, and the Rangers had too many chances for one not to be converted. In the 63rd minute, just off the left side of the penalty area, a kick that had just happened two minutes before but failed, found a wide open Alfredo Morelos streaking mere yards from goal for an easy finish against a helpless Cassio, making it 2-1 Corinthians.
“We really gave our boys the broad strokes but didn't tell them everything to do,” Murty said of all of his side’s spot kick chances —12 in all, and an overwhelming corner advantage (8-1). “We let them sort it out themselves. That’s the way the games go. You get your chances and not all of them are going to go in. But the ones we executed we were very proud of.”
It was all the Scots needed to open the floodgates as Corinthians were very much on their heels from that point on and it proved costly as the Rangers proceeded to put in three more goals.
It took 10 more minutes to find the equalizer but the game just had it coming. The combination play between an onrushing David Bates found Gomes deep on the right flank. Gomes played a perfect ball to the penalty spot for another easy goal to bring the Rangers level 2-2.
Five minutes later, Morelos found his brace off the left side with a perfectly curled, first-time ball to the back right side of the net to give the Scots the lead, 3-1. It was all capped off with the 83rd-minute final goal, as a deflected cross from Dalcio had replacement keeper Caique make a reaction save at the top of the six, but the rebound put it right onto the feet of Tavernier for the tap-in that gave Rangers a 4-2 victory.
Corinthians tried to get back into it but, to be fair, they weren't the same compact, technically efficient side that we saw in the first half. They were able to scrounge up a couple of half chances but you never got the feeling that they were really dangerous from the point of Rangers’ first goal. After that first goal Rangers looked energized, taking all of the control until the final whistle.
Rangers finish their inaugural Florida Cup campaign 2-0-0 with a goal differential of +3. At this point, only three of the remaining clubs: Barcelona SC, Legia Warsaw, and Nacional have a chance to gain six points, which made Murty very happy.
“Overall it was a fantastic experience through and through at the Florida Cup,” Murty said. “From the result, to the service, to the organization, everything has been first class from top to bottom. We’ll look to use this experience as a good stepping stone as we know our boys can grow more off of this trip.”
Corinthians finish 0-1-1, on two points (gaining a second point after a 1-1 opening draw with a shootout win over PSV Eindhoven), in what probably was a disappointing result — at least today — for the Brazilian side.
The Florida Cup continues on as Legia Warsaw, Barcelona SC, and Nacional all see their first matches over the next couple of days. Stay tuned to The Mane Land for all your live game updates and match recaps.