Former Portsmouth favourite’s Belgium fairy tale continues with debut Champions League triumph over Rangers

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The Champions League dream is well and truly under way for ex-Pompey favourite Christian Burgess.

The 31-year-old made his debut in the European competition on Tuesday evening as his Royale Union Saint-Gilloise side took on Rangers in the first leg of their third-round qualifier.

Union marked their first taste of Champions League football with a win, as Felice Mazzu’s men defeated the Scottish Champions 2-0 at the Stade Joseph Marien.

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Goals from Teddy Tuema and a Dante Vanzeir penalty completed the victory, with Burgess featuring for the full 90 minutes.

It was against strong competition too, with last season’s Europa League runners up including the likes of James Tavernier, Jon McLaughlin and Connor Goldson in their starting XI.

Indeed, that victory continues the centre-back’s fairy tale with the Belgian side, which has so far seen two seasons of success following his move from Pompey in July 2020.

His first campaign saw Union reach Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League for the first time in 48 years.

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They subsequently finished as leaders in the top league the following season, only to lose out to eventual winners Club Brugge after suffering late heartbreak in the decisive play-offs.

Christian Burgess marked his Champions League debut with a win over Rangers on Tuesday.Christian Burgess marked his Champions League debut with a win over Rangers on Tuesday.
Christian Burgess marked his Champions League debut with a win over Rangers on Tuesday.

Although he missed out on Pro League glory in his maiden top-flight year, Mazzu’s men are looking to bounce back from that pain and are so far undefeated in their opening two league games.

After opening their Champions League account with a win over Rangers, Union are only half of the way through their third-round qualifier, with a second-leg trip to Ibrox on August 9.

Should they progress, a two-legged play-off tie awaits against either PSV or Monaco to determine a place in this season’s competition, with the loser dropping into the Europa League.

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As Danny Cowley’s side began their 2022-23 League One campaign with a 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Burgess could still be in with a chance of playing against Lionel Messi or Harry Kane on the highest stage of European football.