Rangers had their worst campaign in Champions League history, losing 3-1 to Ajax in their last group match.
Rangers needed a five-goal swing to beat Ajax to third place and the Europa League, knowing that a two-goal defeat would leave them with the worst in Europe tag.
Goals from Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Francisco Conceicao resulted in six consecutive defeats for Ibrox men as a James Tavernier penalty failed to prevent them from scoring a minus 20 goal difference.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s squad is the first Scottish team to have lost all of their group matches in the top European competition, with Ajax finishing third to secure a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
How Rangers ended a dismal campaign with an unwanted record
Team building was a challenge in itself for Van Bronckhorst, who had suspended midfielder John Lundstram and injured nine players – including defenders Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz from the weekend win over Aberdeen.
Left-back Borna Barisic and veteran midfielders Steve Davis and Scott Arfield replaced them.
Former Gers defender Calvin Bassey was on a strong Ajax team that struck first and early to temper early home optimism.
In the fourth minute, to end a slick attack on the left, Kudus set up Berghuis to beat Gers goalkeeper Allan McGregor from the edge of the box.
Things were already looking ominous for Rangers – McGregor had to back up to grab a lob from Berghuis from under his bar – but the underpowered home side finally held back and started looking for a leveler.
Worst campaign in Champions League history
- Rangers are the first Scottish team to go through the group without a point.
- Dinamo Zagreb previously held the unwelcome worst record by minus 19 in the 2011-12 season – a score matched this season by Viktoria Plzen but eclipsed by the Scottish Premiership side.
In the 13th minute, the covering Bassey headed a Fashion Sakala header off the line after some good work by winger Ryan Kent to get his cross in from the left.
Ajax, however, were able to extend the lead again, this time Owen Wijndal, the supplier of Kudus – whose deflected shot came from teenage defender Leon King to beat McGregor.
The keeper made a fine save from Steven Bergwijn a few minutes later and the first frustrated cheer from the stands came shortly afterwards when Kudus fired a shot just wide of the far post.
More muffled booing greeted the whistle before half-time, but there was an attempt from fans to come their way at the start of the second half, although a comeback was highly unlikely.
Kudus had the ball in the net after 55 minutes after a radical move, but Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg ruled it out for offside after a VAR check.
Just before the hour, Glen Kamara, Alfredo Morelos and Scott Wright replaced Davis, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman, but Ajax, backed by a large and vociferous traveling prop, kept control.
Arfield’s brilliant shot on the turn was tipped over the crossbar in the 70th minute by understaffed Ajax keeper Remko Pasveer, but the corner was defended.
In the 84th minute, Morelos took advantage of a Pasveer error, but failed to hit the target with the gaping goal.
Moments later, Rangers substitute for Kent, Rabbi Matondo, was knocked down by Edson Alvarez in the penalty area and Tavernier shot in the penalty.
However, Conceicao, who was on the pitch for just a minute, shot in from close range and referee Nyberg soon blew his whistle to signal the end of a campaign that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons for the Glasgow club.
Rangers still have three Scottish Premiership matches before the World Cup. They travel to St Johnstone on Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick off at 12 noon. Rangers will then face Hearts on Wednesday, November 9; kick off at 7:45 PM.
Their last game before the tournament is on Saturday 12th November when they travel to St Mirren, live on Sky Sports; kick off at 12.30pm.
Ajax has three other Eredivisie matches for the World Cup, against PSV Eindhoven, Vitesse Arnhem and Emmen.