Steven Gerrard has described Kemar Roofe’s stoppage-time wonder strike for Rangers in their 2-0 victory over Standard Liège as the best goal he has ever seen live.
Roofe took the ball past three Liège players at a rain-drenched Stade Maurice Dufrasne before hitting a shot from just inside his own half that subsequently sailed over the head of the goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart and into the back of the net to seal a Europa League opening group win for the Scottish Premiership leaders.
“None of my goals were in that league,” said Gerrard. “It was a moment of genius. I’ve been lucky enough to watch it five or six times since the end of the game and it’s the actual buildup and preparation before the strike. He knocks two people off the ball in the worst conditions I’ve seen. Then he manages to take someone on – and to then have the vision and audacity to try the strike in the first place … it’s probably the best goal I’ve seen live and I’ve been a professional since 1998.”
But Roofe’s celebrations did not go down well with the hosts. The former Anderlecht striker was booked in the aftermath of his goal and a member of the Liège backroom staff took matters into their own hands as they confronted him at full-time, sparking a touchline quarrel between the teams.
Gerrard has no idea if that bust-up will see his team get into trouble but says he will talk to Roofe. “I can’t control what comes our way from that,” he said. “I don’t think I’d describe it as ugly. I think it’s too harsh. I think it was a little something or nothing. They were disappointed in Kemar’s celebration. OK but Kemar was punished for that and that’s for me to deal with and for me to handle.”
James Tavernier had given Rangers the lead with a penalty midway through the first half, while Liège’s biggest threat was the striker Jackson Mulekam, who saw two efforts hit the bar.
There were real concerns the Group D game at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne would not finish as the ball began sticking in the drenched pitch. Thankfully for Rangers, the Danish referee Jakob Kehlet allowed it to go the distance.
Elsewhere, Dundalk lost on their return to the Europa League group stage as Molde came from a goal down to claim a 2-1 victory at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.
Sean Murray’s glancing header gave Dundalk a 35th-minute lead but the Norwegian champions, equalised through Etzaz Hussain’s volley before sealing victory through Ohi Omoijuanfo’s 72nd-minute penalty after Sean Gannon had upended Erling Knudtzon in the area. Dundalk’s next Group B game is at Arsenal.
At the San Paolo, Napoli started their campaign with a shock home defeat by AZ Alkmaar. Alkmaar had travelled to Italy with 13 players sidelined due to coronavirus, but were still able to surprise a side that reached the last 16 of the Champions League last season.
Dani De Wit scored the decisive goal, finding space in the area before drilling beyond Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret after 57 minutes. Elsewhere in Group F Real Sociedad won 1-0 at the Croatian club Rijeka thanks to Jon Bautista’s stoppage-time strike.
Bayer Leverkusen hammered Nice 6-2 in Group C, where Hapoel Be’er Sheva also overcame Slavia Prague 3-1. Granada defeated PSV Eindhoven 2-1 in Group E while Paok Salonika drew 1-1 against Omonia Nicosia.
Roma came from a goal down to claim a 2-1 victory at Young Boys while also in Group A, CFR Cluj ran out 2-0 winners at CSKA Sofia. In Group K there were two draws: 0-0 between Dinamo Zagreb and Feyenoord and 1-1 between Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow.
Paco Alcacer’s brace helped Villarreal defeat Sivasspor 5-3 in a Group I thriller, while Yonatan Cohen’s early strike gave Maccabi Tel-Aviv a 1-0 victory over Qarabag. In Group L, Slovan Liberec and Hoffenheim each made winning starts after seeing off Gent and Red Star Belgrade respectively.