Inside Braga’s Rangers revenge mission as Abel Ruiz reveals the big lesson learned from epic Ibrox comeback

Braga ace Abel Ruiz insists his side are determined to make new memories at Ibrox as they look to banish the pain of their 2020 collapse.

The former Barcelona kid had only just joined the Portuguese outfit and was making his first debut in Glasgow when the teams clashed in Europa League action two years ago.

The 22-year-old got off to a perfect start as he helped his side into a two-goal lead in the first leg.

But by the time he’d been replaced 10 minutes later, Ianis Hagi had already sparked a famous Gers fightback as he pulled one back for the Light Blues.

Ruiz was then forced to watch helplessly from the bench as Joe Aribo and another from Hagi saw the hosts complete an astonishing turnaround that sent Ibrox into delirium.

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Braga’s devastation was compounded a week later at the Estadio Municipal as Ryan Kent sealed another victory to propel Gerrard’s team through to the last 16.

This time, however, it’s Carlos Carvalhal’s team holding the advantage after Ruiz fired the only goal in last week’s opening leg in Portugal.

And the Spain international admits he’s out for revenge.

He said: “The players who were involved here two years ago have some experience of what the atmosphere is like here.

“We were winning 2-0 but Rangers are a team that believes until the end and in that game they came back and managed to get a win which meant we didn’t progress into the next round.

“But we have a lot of confidence because we won in Braga last week.

“We’re aware that it will be a tough game.

“Rangers have excellent players but we will start with good momentum and believe that we can take a good result from this.

Braga’s Abel Ruiz celebrates after making it 1-0 against Rangers

“The Rangers fans will support their team from the first minute.

“We must have a plan in mind, as I said before some of the players will have the experience from two seasons ago.

“Rangers are a team that will fight to the very end and we have to be just like Rangers.”

Ruiz netted in both legs of Braga’s last 16 win over Monaco before making it three on the bounce in Europe with last week’s winner against Gers.

That’s moved him to within three of the competition’s leading scorer, Karl Toko Ekambi of Lyon, and he’s not ruling out a run for the golden boot.

“I always try to score, it is my position,” said the frontman. “I try to help the team with goals.

“I’m confident. If I can score and help the team it will be magnificent for the team.”

Ruiz was just a schoolboy when Braga marched all the way to the end of the 2011 tournament.

It was the biggest moment in the club’s history and the chance to repeat that feat is not lost on the striker.

He said: “I was 11 years old, but I don’t have many memories.

“However, I know the history of the club and I know we have the possibility to make more for this club and this’s what we’ll be out to do tomorrow.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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