Europa League Round of 32
‘Faultless’ Rangers march on in Europe after historic win
Proud: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)
Braga 0 Rangers 1 (agg: 2-4)
Rangers may have wilted domestically in recent weeks but they continue to bloom in Europe under Steven Gerrard.
Since returning from the winter break, the Gers have surrendered the title initiative to Celtic but that Premiership implosion will have been forgotten about, at least for a while, after another stunning Europa League result.
The visitors were deserved victors on the night and became the first Scottish club to win both legs of a European post-qualifying round knockout tie since Celtic defeated Blackburn Rovers 18 year ago.
Considering they were trailing 2-0 in the first game at Ibrox with just 25 minutes remaining, it’s a remarkable achievement.
Ryan Kent scored the only goal of the game in Portugal just after the hour mark but they had some other great chances including a first-half penalty which Ianis Hagi missed.
Hailing his players for securing their place in Friday’s lunchtime draw, Gerrard said: “To a man tonight they were outstanding. I thought they were faultless, certainly out of possession.
“We’ve had some real other good chances tonight to score. We could’ve taken one or two chances in the first half.
“We knew the challenge because of last week. We knew how they were going to play. The idea was to let their back five have the ball.
“This is no fluke. This has come from sheer hard graft. We knew there was an opportunity. We’ll be really proud when the draw is made.”
Rangers’ progress should come as no surprise, the Ibrox outfit having previously won 35 of 43 European ties in which they had an advantage after the first leg in Glasgow.
Gerrard has now lost just three of 30 matches in the Europa League since taking charge.
Neil Lennon, meanwhile, will try to guide his Celtic side into the last 16 as well when they take on Copenhagen at Parkhead tomorrow night, the teams level at 1-1 after the first leg in Denmark.