There was no pain in Spain for Rangers this time. A historic victory over Real Betis saw the record books rewritten and a place in the Europa League secured for Philippe Clement’s side.

First half goals from Abdallah Sima and Cyriel Dessers were cancelled out by Juan Miranda and Ayoze Perez. With ten minutes remaining, Kemar Roofe snatched the three points that condemned Betis to the Conference League.

This was the biggest night of Clement’s Rangers reign so far. Just a couple of miles from the scene of their Seville heartache, Rangers reigned in Spain.

Europa League love affair continues

The relationship between Rangers and the Europa League is something special. This competition has provided so many highs in recent seasons and it once again brought out the best in those in blue.

This was a win that was achieved in the most unlikely of circumstances. It looked like the defeat in Cyprus and draw at home to Aris had cost Rangers dear but a second victory over Betis secured top spot in Group C.

Clement had spoken positively about the progress that Rangers had made in recent weeks. The Belgian references the ‘story’ that his squad are on and this was the most remarkable chapter yet. Rangers can now look forward to the draw on Monday and dare to dream once again.

The night started with a plethora of permutations on the table. Within 15 minutes, it had become win or bust for Rangers. As unenviable as that position was, at least it was clear.

Prague were 2-0 up against Aris early on and their lead had been extended by the time the whistle went in Seville. Rangers had a half to win the game and to secure their place in the knockout round.

As the clock ticked on, the tension around this cauldron increased in line with the decibel level. The red, white and blue contingent made themselves heard but the home crowd were well aware of what was at stake.

When Roofe made it 3-2 with ten minutes remaining, some of the locals in front of the media gantry left their seats and headed for the exits. They clearly didn’t believe a third comeback was on the cards.

They were right. Once again, Rangers saved their best for the Europa League. This will not be their last shot at glory in this competition this term.

Rangers make the most of their chances

It was a night when Rangers needed a hero. Within 20 minutes, two in particular had risen to the challenge as Sima and Dessers twice put Clement’s side ahead in stunning fashion.

The first saw all three members of the forward line involved. Ross McCausland showed his tenacity and touch down the right before Dessers knocked the ball onto Sima. The Senegalese still had plenty to do from inside the area, but he produced a fine effort that found the bottom corner to give Rangers the dream start.

There was a fear that chances would be few and far between for the visitors and making the most of any openings was always going to be crucial. When Dessers did just that, there would have been looks of disbelief as well as elation on the faces of those situated high up in the far corner.

It was a goal that was clinical and composed, one that was crafted by Jose Cifuentes and finished by Dessers. On the angle in the left channel, the striker shifted the ball to take two defenders out of the game and then knocked it through the legs of Rui Silva. Just where has that quality been over the last few months?

The winner didn’t fall into the same category in terms of skill. What a moment it was, though, as Roofe scrambled the ball home after Rangers had kept the play alive after a corner.

Betis class isn’t enough on the night

The task facing Rangers here was sizeable. Manuel Pellegrini’s side sit seventh in La Liga but their form – including a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid last weekend - on home soil has been hugely impressive this term.

Pellegrini made six changes from the side that came from behind to earn a point after Jude Bellingham’s opener and the fact that Isco and Perez started together for the first time in the group stage was perhaps a statement of intent from the Chilean. The pairing paid off for Betis.

The hosts moved the ball with pace and purpose from the opening stages as Rangers were targeted down both flanks. It was from the left where Betis capitalised twice in the first half.

Miranda’s low finish beyond Butland was a sweet strike but Clement will be frustrated at the manner of the build-up as Rangers were undone by Miranda and Borja Iglesias. McCausland was culpable for not tracking his runner and it had to be said that the goal had been coming.

The same points could be made after Perez brought Betis level for the second time. Rangers were once again culpable as Ben Davies failed to halt an attack and Isco collected the ball in a central area.

The playmaker showed his vision and poise to pick out Perez and the strike – perfectly placed beyond Butland – found the far corner. It was a touch of class from a side that had plenty of it middle to front. Ultimately, though, they fell short when it mattered most.

Limited options laid bare once again

Supporters have tuned in to Clement’s press conferences with a sense of trepidation in recent weeks and fearing the worst over what updates the Belgian will deliver. The news on Wednesday was worse than expected as Clement’s selection issues dominated the agenda.

The loss of Todd Cantwell due to personal circumstances was a real blow for Rangers, as was the continued absence of Ryan Jack. It made the starting line-up somewhat routine to predict and the only decisions that had to be made fell in the favour of Davies and McCausland.

A look at the bench summed up Clement’s predicament. Rabbi Matondo and Roofe were the only potential game-changers as Clement selected two keepers and three academy kids – Adam Devine, Arron Lyle and Cole McKinnon - alongside John Souttar and Dujon Sterling, who seems set to replace the suspended Jose Cifuentes at Hampden.

Clement can, of course, only play the hand that he is dealt. It is far from ideal, though, during a defining run of fixtures. The January break cannot come soon enough for a squad that needs to regroup and a boss that needs to recruit.

All focus on Hampden now

A return to Seville was always going to be an emotional moment for some of these players and scores of supporters. Four members of the side that lost the final – James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic and John Lundstram – started on the other side of the city and many of the conversations between those that travelled would have centred on events 18 months ago.

Rangers had little time to dwell on their disappointment on that occasion as they made the journey back to Glasgow and went straight into the Scottish Cup final. Now, a shot at the silverware awaits once again as Clement bids for his first medal as manager.

This fixture took its place as one of the most eye-catching on the schedule but it had to be treated in isolation. Domestic matters are, quite simply, more important than European ones for Rangers.

Victory over Aberdeen on Sunday could be transformative for Clement and it would give his side real impetus heading into the festive fixtures and the second half of the campaign. This one - regardless of the outcome – was never meaningless but Sunday carries far greater significance, even after a performance and a result as eye-catching as this.