IN the City of Bears, not even the Buffalo could save Rangers as Steven Gerrard suffered only his third defeat on the continent as boss.

A battling draw and top spot in Group G were within his grasps, but Young Boys snatched the win in the final seconds as Rangers were left defeated and deflated.

Alfredo Morelos had put Gerrard’s side ahead late in the first half but the advantage was squandered shortly after the break as Roger Assale netted. With virtually the last kick of the game, Christian Fassnacht won it for Swiss champions.

Rangers had travelled with hope as well as high expectations after their rousing win over Feyenoord a fortnight ago. But the performance and the result were very different here.

In truth, both teams probably got what they deserved from an encounter that was competitive but far from classic and, as boss Gerardo Seoane had predicted pre-match, it looks like this one will go down to the wire in terms of qualification after a trip that Rangers won’t remember fondly, on the park at least.

The streets of Bern are adorned with decorative statues of the animal that the city is famed for and the Bärengraben Bear Park on the banks of the River Aar gives tourists a chance to see the famous creatures at close quarters.

For the couple of hundred Rangers fans that made the trip to Switzerland, despite the Ibrox board deciding not to take an official away allocation, it was the natural attraction for them on matchday.

When the real action got underway, it was somewhat underwhelming. In the end, it was hugely disappointing for the Light Blues as they fell well short of what was expected.

The Gers have shown they can adapt to different styles and utilise different approaches on the continent during Gerrard’s reign and they arrived in Bern in fine form, with the victory over Feyenoord one of five that has been chalked up since the defeat to Celtic at Ibrox.

The performances against the Dutch giants and Aberdeen at Ibrox have been the most impressive of that run and it looked like Rangers would need to find that level again if they were to see off Young Boys at a venue where they hadn’t lost in a year. When it wasn’t produced, the outcome was sadly inevitable.

By the time Gerrard sat his players down in the away dressing room at the break, Rangers had the advantage in the game and were a goal to the good. It wasn’t a sterling showing that had earned them that healthy position, though.

For much of the half, Rangers were cumbersome on the plastic pitch. The passing wasn’t crisp, the movement laboured as they seemingly failed to adapt to the underfoot conditions.

Gerrard insisted pre-match that he wouldn’t allow his side to use the synthetic surface as an excuse. It may have played a part in their problems, but the Gers boss was entitled to expect more from several of his players.

Rangers were left off the hook when Jean Pierre Nsame failed to convert from close range before Assale saw a shot deflected over the bar after he cut in from the left. The hosts attacked with pace at times but there wasn’t enough quality to really trouble Rangers when they looked susceptible.

The same could be said of Gerrard’s side, though. When Ryan Jack won the ball in the final third, Sheyi Ojo wasted a promising situation as he tried to give it back to the midfielder rather than turn on the edge of the box and head towards goal.

When Rangers did get forward, the ball never looked like it was under control but one move sent Morelos free down the left. From a tight angle, his shot was tame and easily held by David von Ballmoos.

The next time Morelos had his sights fixed on target, he made no mistake. A Borna Barisic pass allowed the striker to spin away from Cedric Zesiger and left him with only the keeper to beat.

The turn was trademark Morelos, and so was the finish. With just seconds left of the half, Rangers finally produced a moment of quality and were rewarded.

The advantage wouldn’t last. Just five minutes after the restart, Rangers produced another moment of slackness and were deservedly punished.

James Tavernier failed to clear his lines and Nsame was given the chance to cross. He picked out Assale as he got across Helander and converted from close range.

It was symptomatic of Rangers’ night in many ways. It was a sloppy goal to concede and the momentum was given back to Young Boys when the Light Blues had a chance to finally assert themselves in the game and quieten the vocal ultras section behind McGregor’s goal.

Penalty appeals for what looked like a foul on Morelos as he tried to meet a Barisic cross were waved away by referee Manuel Schuettengruber and Rangers soon found themselves on the back foot.

The loss of Jack through injury didn’t help their cause and Greg Stewart, so impressive at the weekend, couldn’t hit the ground running here as Rangers struggled to regain a foothold in the game.

It was still there to be won, but it was cruelly lost. Just seconds after Morelos was denied by von Ballmoos, McGregor had to pick the ball out of his net.

Rangers once again shot themselves in the foot. The finish from Fassnacht was emphatic, but the defending from Tavernier was abject and the mistakes from the captain had cost Rangers a win and then a point.

It also denied them pole position in the standings. The race for a knock-out berth still has plenty of twists and turns to come.