In stoppage time, Darwin Nunez of Benfica scored to deny Rangers a 10th consecutive win in all competitions.
As Rangers squandered a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 at 10-man Benfica and see their 100 percent start in Europa League Group D come to an end on Thursday, Darwin Nunez scored a stoppage-time equalizer.
In their opening two games, Steven Gerrard’s side triumphed over Standard Liege and Lech Poznan, but they got off to a poor start at Estadio da Luz when, after just 60 seconds, Connor Goldson redirected a low cross into his own net.
Before half-time, however, they powered back, taking ruthless advantage of Nicolas Otamendi’s straight red card for a professional foul through Diogo Goncalves’ own goal and Glen Kamara’s fine shot.
FULL-TIME: Benfica 3-3 Rangers
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) November 5, 2020
Shortly after the restart, Alfredo Morelos added a third, but Benfica battled back for an unlikely draw as the 77th-minute effort by Rafa followed Nunez by dramatically leveling proceedings with the clock running down.
When Goldson turned into his own net from four yards after a determined game down the right-hand side of Rafa, Benfica got off to a flier.
After 10 minutes of a fluid counter-attacking pass, Pizzi dragged wide before Rangers were handed a lifeline when Otamendi was dismissed after a long ball over the top for hauling down Ryan Kent in the 19th minute.
The Scottish Premiership side took advantage of their numerical dominance easily, pulling level five minutes later when Goncalves comically put James Tavernier’s cross through his own net.
With a drilled effort from 20 yards, Kamara then put the visitors ahead only a minute later, while Morelos slotted home a third in the 51st minute from Tavernier’s low ball into the six-yard box.
Kent was meant to make it four but hit the post with only Odisseas Vlachodimos to beat, with his profligacy duly punished by Rangers.
Until Nunez slotted past Allan McGregor, Rafa pulled one back for the hosts to seal a draw after Gian-Luca Waldschmidt played clean through.
What does that imply? Bitter pill to swallow for Gerrard
For conspiring to draw a game that they dominated for long periods, Gerrard will be furious with his side. They carved out 13 shots and enjoyed almost 59 percent of possession, while the hosts scored after Goldson’s early own goal with their only two shots on target.
At the Group D summit, the result leaves both sides on seven points, four points ahead of third-placed Lech Poznan.
Kamara shines For Rangers
The Finland International deserved to be on the winning side, with a well-struck effort, bringing the visitors 2-1 up and taking possession of nine times more than any other Rangers player.
Although at Manchester City, Otamendi had his fair share of mishaps and he was up to his old tricks on Thursday. Early on, he had been badly found out by Kent and deserved his red card for a sloppy challenge.
And what is next?
Rangers host Hamilton Academical on Sunday before the international break in the Scottish Premiership, while Benfica is in domestic action against Braga on the same day.