A memorable European performance it was not, a memorable European result though? Absolutely. It’s fair to say Rangers weren’t at their best last night but the most important thing was the result.
The goal from James Tavernier was huge for Rangers season. Both full backs weren’t at their best but they were the ones to provide the goal that put us through.
That result now means Rangers will either qualify for the Champions League group stages or drop into the Europa League with a £5m parachute payment. All that stands in our way is last years play-off opponents, PSV Eindhoven.
I thought 4 players showed up well last night. Jack Butland, Todd Cantwell, José Cifuentes and Nico Raskin, with the latter being the pick of the bunch.
Butland made an incredible save to keep the scoreline down in the first half. He got down so well and pushed the ball away from danger. It’s the second game in a row he’s made a crucial save at an important time in the game.
The three aforementioned midfielders had 22 recoveries between them, Cantwell (7) Cifuentes (9) and Raskin (6). All three worked hard all night but it was Raskin’s work rate, particularly in the second half which impressed me.
Before last night I thought the young Belgian had struggled at the start of this season. Last night though, he;
- Completed The Most Dribbles – 3
- Had The Most Tackles – 3
- Most Fouled Player – 3
- Won The Most Duels – 13
He also created one ‘big chance’ a superb performance from the 22-year-old. Promising signs from those three as a potential midfield trio going forward this season.
The lack of width is still concerning. Despite the goal coming from a cross from one full back to another, it doesn’t look like either Tavernier or Barisic have the legs/pace to provide what is needed. If Beale is going to persist with the full backs proving most of the width, something has to change.
Another sitter from one of the new strikers. Danilo was the one in question this time round, Rangers have spent a lot on a new forward line and between Lammers miss last week and Danilo’s last night, two of them could’ve been part of the cause of a Champions League exit.
Being clinical was an issue last season and it’s already crept into this one. To progress in Europe and win back the league, Rangers need to start converting these chances as the opposition always seem to do it against us.
Individual errors cost another goal. Souttar was caught under the ball and Cifuentes hadn’t tracked his man back. This left Tavernier in no man’s land trying to mark two opponents, excellent finish mind you.
Everything still isn’t clicking up top and we still don’t look set defensively. These are issues that need sorted sooner, rather than later.
The Manager’s Comments
Michael Beale had this to say post match;
We didn’t do well enough first-half, we were a little bit passive and obviously they scored and the crowd were up in the stadium.
We went in at half-time and we had to have a strong conversation. We were much better in the second-half. It was a fantastic cross from Borna [Barisic] and that is something we have seen for a number of years from James Tavernier.
It was a wonderful goal and after that we were unfortunate not to go and score one or two more. I have to say Jack Butland was outstanding tonight too and that’s why we have recruited him.
We know that in this first month of the season we have Champions League qualifiers, we have important league games and we have got the League Cup.
We need to recover, we are playing every three days at the moment and by the time the international break comes around we will have played eight or nine games but that is the life of being a Rangers player.
You need to embrace it, you need to enjoy it, you need to recover well and go strong again. I still think this team has got to go up three or four levels to get to where we want it to be but nights like tonight and the togetherness they showed will certainly help us in the long run.
Jose Cifuentes and Nicolas Raskin had decent games to be fair you could see how hard they worked. We got Todd [Cantwell] into good areas and you’d like to just be a little bit more precise in the final ball, I thought Cyriel [Dessers] and Sam [Lammers] came on and added to the work ethic of Abdullah [Sima] and Danilo.
Early in the game today when you are 1-0 down you are looking for a response from the players and we certainly had that after half time and in the end, it was a good result and it is one that gets us through.Michael Beale to RTV
Honest thoughts from the manager and pretty much what everyone else was thinking.
There’s still a lot of work to do with this Rangers side, particularly going forward. There’s no clear first choice front three because none of the new signings have claimed a starting spot for themselves.
All three of Danilo, Dessers and Lammers have missed big chances this season, already. They need to start firing in goals and quickly.
Defensively we don’t look set either. The demand of width from the fullbacks, at times, leaves the defence wide open. That’s something that either needs to be drastically worked on, or changed.
The main thing tonight was progression and we got there. It’s still early days for this rebuilt side but we need to hope it starts coming together in time for PSV next week.
How did you feel about last nights performance? Who stood out to you? Are you confident facing PSV next week?
ICYMI you can read our article about Todd Cantwell and his importance to Rangers here.