Gerrard stays calm despite Rangers’ Euro progress
Success: Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)
Rangers 1 Young Boys 1
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard was keeping his feet firmly on the ground despite steering his team into the last 32.
It was a memorable night for the Ibrox side as they secured European football beyond Christmas for the first time in eight years.
The hosts only needed to avoid defeat to progress and the point was enough to send them through as runners-up from Group G alongside winners Porto, who defeated Feyenoord 3-2.
“It was a very tough group so all credit to the boys for getting through,” said Gerrard.
“I’m not going to celebrate finishing second but credit where credit’s due.
“This club has suffered a lot and it’s been a case of building it back up and this is another step in the right direction.
“I’m very pleased and very proud but I won’t over-celebrate that’s for sure.”
There was a nervous end to the game after a late own goal from Borna Barisic but for the majority of the match it was another impressive European performance from Steven Gerrard’s men.
A dominant first-half from Rangers ensured there was to be no hangover from their League Cup Final defeat to Celtic.
Striker Alfredo Morelos, under pressure after a series of misses at Hampden, slotted his sixth goal in the group to put the hosts ahead.
The Colombian now has a remarkable 26 goals to his credit this season and his presence at Ibrox after the January transfer window will be vital to Gers’ hopes of going further in the tournament.
The concession of the late equaliser cost Rangers top spot in the group and means they will be unseeded for the knockout stages.
Midfielder Ryan Jack was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card and will be suspended for his side’s next tie.
Celtic, who fielded a much-changed team in a 2-0 loss to Cluj in Romania, had already qualified as winners of Group E and will be seeded in the draw on Monday.
Scottish football has often been a laughing stock in Europe but with both Glasgow clubs through to the knockout phase, that is no longer the case.
The rivals cannot play each other in the next round, which is played on February 20/27, with seeded teams at home in the second leg.
SEEDED TEAMS: Ajax, Arsenal, Braga, Basel, Benfica, Celtic, Espanyol, Gent, Inter, Basaksehir, Lask, Malmo, Manchester United, Porto, Salzburg, Sevilla.
UNSEEDED: Apoel, AZ Alkmaar, Bayer Leverkusen, Cluj, Brugge, Copenhagen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Getafe, Ludogorets, Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon, Wolfsburg, Wolves.