Today we look at three European encounters from down the years, the first a Jim Baxter virtuoso performance from 1961 away to Monaco, the second from the following season when "Little Puskas" Willie Henderson was the man of the moment and the final from 1979, when John Greig was hailed as a tactical genius for his team selection away to Lillestrom.
In 1961, Rangers were away to Monaco in the European Cup and the 3:2 scoreline did little to describe the dominance that Rangers enjoyed throughout the match. A swashbuckling performance from Jim Baxter was the difference between the two sides and Slim Jim scored the opener and set up the second for Scott for a 2:0 lead at halftime.
After the break, Rangers began to play champagne football to entertain the crowd and Baxter was at the heart of that too. The Evening Times described one move the day afterwards as follows: "Baxter, indeed, put on a first-class impersonation of a performing seal. In one move he caught the ball on his forehead, gave a nod over one opponent, then another and another and went on his way for 30 yards before breaking down – in laughter I suspect.”
This show-boating brought Monaco back to life and they responded with goals from Hess in the 60th minute and Carlier in the 72th before Scott regained the Rangers lead in the 85th minute for a 3:2 victory.
On the same day the season after the win at the Stade Louis II in 1962, Rangers were hosts to Sevilla and once again dominated their European opponents. Jimmy Millar scored his third hat-trick of the season and one from his strike partner Ralph Brand was enough for a 4:0 win over the Spanish Cup winners.
The Spanish media were very complimentary of the Rangers team nicknaming Willie Henderson, who had a fantastic game, "Little Puskas" after the famous Real Madrid icon. Madrid based newspaper Marca commented: “By the high quality of their soccer they looked like a South American club. It is almost miraculous that the score was only 4:0”. Senor Antonio del Rio, an official for Seville when asked for reasons for the loss said, “Yes, I can give you 11 reasons – they were all in blue jerseys.”
In a complete contrast to modern football, Rangers remarkably asked for a yellow card awarded to Enrique Mateos for lashing out at Harold Davis to be 'forgotten'! Rangers director John Wilson spoke to the referee after the match, saying that Rangers wanted to make the journey to Spain as good friends of Seville and asked Herr Sorensen to forget about the booking.
Sorensen followed Rangers' wishes and said the following the day after the match: “We will respect the wishes of Rangers. We will send in the team lines in our report but we will not mention the fact that Mateos was cautioned."
Finally, on this day in 1979 Rangers took on Norwegian side Lillestrom SK in Norway winning 2:0 thanks to goals from Alex MacDonald in the 41st minute and a second from Derek Johnstone in the last minute. Manager John Greig made the decision to drop Davie Cooper from the match to give Tommy McLean the freedom to roam in the middle of the park with MacDonald, Watson and Russell tasked with winning the ball.
Greig was hailed in the press for his tactics the next day and when asked about the decision to drop Cooper responded saying: “There is no first team at Rangers. There is a squad of players and the selection is determined by the job on hand”.