RANGERS paid a high price for their lack of ruthlessness up front tonight when they lost to Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 double header at Ibrox to crash out of the competition.

Philippe Clement’s side, who had drawn the first leg 2-2 in Lisbon last week, did more than enough to beat Roger Schmidt’s star-studded side over the course of the 90 minutes and progress to the quarter-finals.

However, they failed to convert any of the scoring opportunities they created going forward and the Portuguese champions hit them with a sucker punch in the 66th minute when Rafa Silva scored on the breakaway.

It was a cruel end to a European campaign which had seen them top their group. Here are five talking points from the bitterly disappointing result.

Early risers

The 5.45pm kick-off time which this encounter was given due to UEFA broadcaster commitments irked Rangers and their thousands of follow followers.

Still, that did not prevent a sell-out crowd from filing through the turnstiles and creating a raucous and raw atmosphere inside the famous old Govan ground.

There was a healthy smattering of the visitors’ disciples in the corner between the Broomloan Stand and Sandy Jardine Stand – the tournament organisers stipulate that the away team must receive five per cent of the ticket allocation – and that helped no end.

But the Bears certainly rose to the occasion. Nicolas Otamendi and his team mates were hit with a wall of noise as they came out of the tunnel.

Fabio Silva gestured at them to raise the decibel levels after Benfica goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin had allowed a Tom Lawrence shot to go out of play for a corner. But he really had no need to do so.

There was a minute’s applause during the first half in memory of the fan who passed away in Lisbon last week – and there was plenty for spectators to clap on the park.

Tavernier and his team mates controlled possession, albeit without creating many clear cut chances in the final third, and were comfortably the better of the two sides.  

When one team dominates to such a degree and fails to score they always run the risk of paying the price and conceding on the counter. That is exactly what happened. Benfica broke from their own half, Silva got through one-on-one with Jack Butland and kept his composure.

Rock solid Butland

No Rangers player has represented England since the legendary Paul Gascoigne did so way back in 1997.

But it was still something of a surprise when Butland was today left out of Gareth Southgate’s national squad for the friendly internationals against Brazil and Belgium later this month.

Jordan Pickford of Everton is very much his country’s first choice goalkeeper. But neither Sam Johnstone of Crystal Palace nor Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal have been playing with the same regularity or consistency as Butland this season.

The nine-times capped 31-year-old has certainly performed superbly against Aris Limassol, Real Betis and Sparta Prague in the Europa League in recent months.

He would have been determined to do the same thing once again tonight and show Southgate what he is missing after his England recall failed to materialise.

Butland was tested early on when Fredrik Aursnes tried his luck from range. It was a bread and butter save in ordinary circumstances. But the slippy surface made it a challenge and he did well to keep the scoreline level. He held a Casper Tengstedt shot in the second half and tipped an Alexander Bah effort past his post.

He could do nothing about the goal.   

The Wright stuff

The loss of Dujon Sterling, who had scored his first goal in senior football in the Estadio da Luz last week, to injury was a blow to Clement.

Ross McCausland, another to suffer a knock in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday, was not deemed fit enough to start.

That presented an unexpected opportunity to Scott Wright on the right flank.

The Scot has not been a regular starter for Rangers once again this term. The only European game he had featured in from kick-off before this evening was the loss to Aris in Cyprus back in October. He has, though, a wealth of experience on the continent.

Wright helped the Ibrox club to come from behind and defeat RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-final two years ago after Kemar Roofe was ruled out.  

He made a nuisance of himself from the first whistle. He did well to get on of a Silva chip and head into the six yard box early on and then force Aursnes to concede a corner. He soldiered on after receiving medical attention for a head knock and fired over the crossbar on the half hour mark.  

He did superbly to tee up Cyriel Dessers for a shot early in the second half and the striker was unlucky that his attempt was deflected wide by Aursnes. He was cheered off when he was replaced by Rabbi Matondo.   

Clinical Benfica

Benfica manager Schmidt is under pressure from fans at the moment despite his team being in second spot in the Primeira Liga table just a point behind leaders Sporting Lisbon.

Losing 5-0 to Porto has not gone down well with Eagles diehards.

The German threw on Danish forward Tengstedt for Brazilian striker Leonardo at the start of the second half and then replaced David Neres with Orkun Kokcu in the hope it would spark his men to life.

They took the lead against the run of play with 24 minutes of regulation time remaining after a VAR check showed winger Silva had not been offside.

If you don’t take your chances

Clement has not been happy with the injuries he has had to contend with since he arrived in Glasgow and it was easy to see why this evening. Rangers acquitted themselves admirably throughout. However, they lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Would it have been a different story if Oscar Cortes, Danilo, Abdallah Sima or Sterling had played? Matondo took over from Wright, Todd Cantwell came on for Lawrence and Roofe replaced Dessers in the closing stages. But they were unable to make a difference.  

It was just the third defeat their Belgian manager has suffered in Scotland