Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending off

A RED card storm wasn’t what he meant – but that’s what Steven Gerrard got.

Daniel Candeias was sent off late in the first half to force Rangers to batten down the hatches for a vital Europa League point.

Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending offPA:Press Association8 Daniel Candeias was sent off in the first half

Slovenian referee Matej Jug had Ibrox raging when he dismissed the Portuguese winger for a second bookable offence.

After that a 0-0 draw was the best Gerrard’s side could expect to get.

The draw was enough to keep alive their knock out hopes going into the final group game against Rapid Vienna next month.

In a pulsating night Allan McGregor was truly outstanding with a series of stunning saves, but the big moment in the match centred around Candeias.

Ibrox was crammed to the rafters with a real sense of anticipation before kick-off.

Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending offWillie Vass8 McGregor pulls off crucial save
Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending offReuters8 Santi Cazorla came off the bench for Villarreal but couldn't find a winner

Gerrard wanted an intimidating atmosphere from the home support to unsettle the La Liga outfit. And he got one.

But from the start it was like his Rangers players got caught up in the hype.

Instead of sucking in the noise and encouragement and using it to their advantage they made a start to the game which was far too frantic.

Villarreal had a calmness in possession. They refused to be panicked on the ball as they kept their cool, with Rangers too often giving it away almost as soon as they got it.

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There were chances at both ends and Scott Arfield could have scored inside six minutes.

After the ball was played into the box from the right it broke kindly for the midfielder, but he fired his shot straight at keeper Andreas Fernandez.

You couldn’t help think that had the opportunity fallen for striker Alfredo Morelos the outcome may have been different.

Conor Goldon also had a decent sight of goal on the half-hour mark but blasted high over the bar from six yards.

That was the two clearcut chances Rangers created in 45 minutes.

Villarreal, though, were cursing Allan McGregor who made two outstanding stops to deny striker Karl Toko Ekambi.

The first block came after 32 minutes when the leggy French-born Cameroon international ran through with only the Scotland keeper to beat.

Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending offPA:Press Association8 Scott Arfield watched his early effort comfortably saved
Rangers hero Allan McGregor shines for Steven Gerrard’s side as they hold on for Europa League draw against Villarreal after Daniel Candeias’ sending offAFP or licensors8 Allan McGregor pulled off numerous impressive stops

McGregor stood tall, refusing to flinch first, to win the battle of wills with Ekambi.

He did the same again in 43 minutes after slackness at the back from Rangers gifted him another opportunity.

McGregor again refused to be beaten as he made a stunning one-handed save.

But the game’s high drama came just seconds before the half-time whistle.

Candeias had already been booked after 36 minutes for a late challenge on Jaume Costa.

The last thing he needed was to get involved in another scuffle but only seconds before the break he found himself in the middle of one.

Morelos and James Tavernier both challenged midfielder Santiago Caseres in quick-fire tackles.

Candeias then went in and caught the Villarreal star in a clumsy lunge.

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