Joe Aribo savoured the most important goal of his career as Rangers clinched a remarkable Europa League 3-2 win over Sporting Braga at the Ibrox Stadium on Thursday night.
Steven Gerrard’s side were staring at a last 32 exit as the Portuguese took a two goal lead at Ibrox and produced an accomplished showing for the first hour.
But the Light Blues roared back to ensure they will take a lead into the second leg next Wednesday as Ianis Hagi netted twice either side of Aribo’s stunning goal.
Hagi gave Rangers hope with a terrific finish at the near post and would complete the comeback with a deflected free-kick that sent Ibrox wild.
But it was Aribo’s effort that was the most eye-catching of the three as he weaved his way through the Braga defence and finished with aplomb from inside the area.
The midfielder had come on at left-back to replace the injured Borna Barisic and had quite an impact on a memorable evening under the floodlights.
Aribo said: “It’s hard to put it into words. It’s the most important goal of my career to date.
“The boys are just buzzing with the result. We are all absolutely ecstatic. I’ve never experienced anything like the atmosphere tonight. It was like a 12th man. It was a lovely feeling to have the backing of the fans.
“The gaffer told me to be positive when I came off the bench and to take the ball to them and just distract them so they are not having it their own way.
“I’ve never scored a goal like that before. What was in my mind? I just thought I was going to keep going. I got past the first man and there was no turning back. I just had to keep going and I found myself in front of goal- luckily I found the back of the net.
“I actually started the move. I found the first man with my cross and the ball came back to me. I just said let me do what I’m going to do.
“The feeling when the ball hit the net was relief because I was just buzzing that it had gone in and we were level.
“We know how good Braga are and that they have a lot of players who could hurt us. If we were not at it we would have suffered. That’s what happened in the early part of the game but we need to be on top form over there for the second leg.”