Rangers have a mountain to climb at Ibrox next week after they lost 1-0 in the first leg of their European quarter-final on Thursday night.
The Gers were unable to fly out of the traps in the same way that they did in their last two Europa League ties as Gio van Bronckhorst’s men were caught out by the quality of their opponents.
Braga thought they had taken the lead in the opening half an hour when Horta’s shot deflected in off James Tavernier, but a VAR check allowed the referee to spot a foul on Ryan Jack and the goal was swiftly disallowed.
It was second time lucky for the hosts 10 minutes later, though, as Leon Balogun failed to clear his lines and Abel Ruiz pounced to fire past Allan McGregor. Rangers could not find a way back into the game and will now need to turn it around in Glasgow in the second leg.
In the absence of the injured Alfredo Morelos, Fashion Sakala was handed the opportunity to start through the middle as Van Bronckhorst’s number nine. He had the chance to make the position his own for the rest of the season with a strong showing in Portugal but failed to make the most of it as he struggled badly throughout the night.
The attacker was dreadful and surely left the Dutchman scratching his head over what to do in that role with Morelos out for the foreseeable future. Kemar Roofe was disappointing against Celtic last weekend and now Sakala has let him down against Braga, with no other recognised strikers in the squad on Thursday night.
Off the ball, the Zambian was unable to cause any real problems for the opposition. As per SofaScore, he lost 100% of his duels as he came out second-best in all seven of his aerial battles and also his three on the ground, which shows that he was physically dominated throughout the game.
Sakala was also abysmal in possession. As per SofaScore, he only completed three passes at a success rate of 43%, whilst giving the ball every once every 1.8 touches (11/20). He did not create a single chance for his team-mates and missed both of his attempted shots, with one of them going down as a ‘big chance’.
Therefore, the 25-year-old failed Van Bronckhorst’s big test as he was unable to prove that he is capable of effectively leading the line for the Gers in Europe, struggling in and out of possession all night.