Rangers’ six-game unbeaten run in all competitions came crashing to an end as they lost 2-0 to Ligue 1 side Lyon on Thursday night in the Europa League.
Steven Gerrard’s side were unable to pick up their first points of the group stage as a stunning strike from Toto Ekambi and an own goal from James Tavernier sealed the win for the French outfit at Ibrox.
Despite the defeat, there were some green shoots of potential in the performance, with a few players impressing throughout the match. One player who was a shining light for Gerrard was central defender Leon Balogun, who caught the eye at the back.
The centre-back was paired alongside Connor Goldson and was excellent throughout. He could do nothing about either of the goals, with John Lundstram allowing Ekambi to beat him too easily for the first and the second coming when Goldson’s block ricocheted off Tavernier and rolled into an empty net.
Defensively, Balogun was excellent. As per SofaScore, he won seven of his 11 duels on the pitch, making two clearances, two interceptions and two tackles. He also put in two blocks to show off his superb positioning and bravery to get in the way of the ball and prevent Allan McGregor from needing to make a save.
This shows that he was able to answer the majority of the questions Lyon posed of him. He showcased his strong defending and proved that he is able to perform at Europa League level, which will delight Gerrard as the manager will now know that he can rely upon the Nigerian for the rest of the group stage if needed.
The Rangers beast was also impressive on the ball. As per SofaScore, he had 61 touches and completed 87% of his attempted passes, including four of his eight longer pass attempts. The experienced 33-year-old was also successful with one of his two dribble attempts and won two free-kicks for the Gers, showing his nous to relieve pressure on his team.
This shows that he was competent on the ball to go along with his stout defending at the back. He put in an all-around top-class performance at centre-back for Rangers and was a shining light in an otherwise disappointing night for the Gers.