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The 33-year-old made a huge contribution in helping the Gers bag their first group win in the secondary European competition

Leon Balogun scored his first Uefa Europa League goal in Rangers’ 2-0 triumph over Brondby on Thursday night.

Balogun’s breakthrough in the European competition came just a few days after he broke his international duck for Nigeria in a 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central African Republic.

The Super Eagles centre-back started the game alongside his compatriot Joe Aribo and they ensured Steven Gerrard’s side get their Europa League campaign up and running with a crucial home victory.

In the 18th minute, Balogun rose highest to find the back of the net with James Tavernier’s cross, and it was also his first goal for the Gers in a competitive fixture since he joined them on a permanent deal in July 2020.

Shortly after the opening goal, Kemar Roofe made it 2-0 with his 30th-minute goal that sealed maximum points for the hosts at Ibrox Stadium.

The two teams struggled to find the back of the net after the restart but Balogun was replaced by new Super Eagles invitee Calvin Bassey in the 64th minute while Zambia striker Fashion Sakala replaced Alfredo Morelos in the 71st minute.

Balogun made his first appearance in the Europa League back in November 2016 when he was at Mainz 05 and the encounter ended in a 6-1 loss to Anderlecht.

The victory came as a relief for Rangers after they lost their first two matches to Lyon and Sparta Prague.

Steven Gerrard’s men are now third in Group A table with three points after three matches. In the other group fixture, 10-man Lyon edged Sparta Prague in a seven-goal thriller.

Cameroon striker Karl Toko Ekambi scored a brace as the Ligue 1 club extended their perfect run and dominance in Group A with a 4-3 away win.

Luka Haraslin’s first-half double gave the hosts a bright start but Toko Ekambi found the back of the net in each half to secure maximum points for Peter Bosz’s side.

Lyon ended the encounter with 10 men after Malo Gusto received a second yellow card in the 74th minute but it did not deter them from leading Group A after gathering nine points from three games while Sparta Prague are second with four points.

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