Champions League Beating As Good As A Win: An Exclusive By Keith Jackass.
There’s a world of difference between a savage beating and an unspeakably cruel one.
Unfortunately for Ibrox, they’ve now experienced it all inside a fortnight.
After the spineless capitulations that brought their manager to a point of crisis, last night they produced a performance of heroic proportions – only to end up bloodied and bruised all over again.
Where they had been pitiful against Celtic and Ajax, here they were at their most powerful.
Where they had lacked stomach for the fight, this time they were ravenous. And even when reduced to 10 men against the giants of Napoli, they mustered up something bordering on the astonishing as returning keeper Allan McGregor stopped two penalties before finally being beaten by a third in quick succession.
Two late goals rubbed salt into the wounds, adding to the stinging sense of injustice. Of course, it won’t matter much in terms of this group campaign. With no points from a possible six, Ibrox are already in need of snookers.
But in the greater scheme of things this was a night of redemption, nonetheless, for a team and their manager. Given his own credibility was on the line after two 4-0 defeats, Giovanni van Bronckhorst ’s team selection was the subject of considerable intrigue.
Ibrox coped admirably with what the Italians could throw at them as then, seconds after the restart, another big chance came and went when Kent and Ryan Jack combined down the left to carve Napoli open.
This time Tavernier’s touch at the back post set up Arfield on the swivel but his shot was sliced wide from eight yards. Another deep cross from the left followed, with Goldson heading agonisingly across the face of goal.
Then came the moment that took this match from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous. Sands, having gone into the book seconds earlier, was adjudged to have tripped Simeone inside the box as he rushed back to cover the Argentine’s run and was shown a second yellow with the half just 10 minutes old.
That was harsh enough. What came next was beyond belief. First McGregor hurled himself to his right to heroically stop Zielinski’s spot-kick, only for Matteo Politano to squeeze home on the rebound.
But when VAR spotted the Italian scorer’s encroachment into the box, astonishingly the ref ordered a retake. Zielinski stepped up again. And again McGregor flew to his right to make a stunning stop.
As the enormity of what had happened was still sinking in, Lahoz pointed to the spot for a third time when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s shot smashed into Borna Barisic’s arm from point-blank range.
This time Politano squeezed it home at McGregor’s left-hand post, even though the 40-year-old got his fingers on it. A little over five minutes from time, insult was added to injury as sub Giacomo Raspadori burrowed through the heart of McGregor’s defence to slot home No.2.
Then, come injury time, fellow sub Tanguy Ndombele rattled home to add a hint of humiliation to the scoreline. But at least this time Ibrox salvaged some pride from the pain.
As defeats go, this one is as good as a win and it will have the club across the city concerned that the team at Ibrox are finding their form again.
Here’s the thing. I love the Keith Jackass pieces. I love to write them and I love to slag this guy off.
But none of what you read above is mine except for the final line.
That’s why it’s in italics like the rest but not in bold.
The rest is his.
Jackson has written something so outrageous, ridiculous and delusional that I could not have spoofed it better if I had tried. So I decided to post it under the Jackass headline more or less as he wrote it.
Speaks volumes that, doesn’t it?