What an achievement for Glasgow Rangers as they produced a solid 1-0 winning display against Ruben Amorin’s superb Braga side last week in Portugal.
As a reward, the Gers will now face Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 of the Europa League, with the first leg at Ibrox next week and the away tie in Germany a week later.
When you consider that it’s Steven Gerrard’s first management job, he is entitled to the credit he’s receiving for this well-deserved success.
In the first-leg at Ibrox, Rangers were 2-0 down when Ianis Hagi scored a terrific goal to kick start a fine comeback to eventually beat Braga 3-2.
This spurred the Gers players to believe they could qualify and provide the SPFL with an extra spot for next season’s Champions League.
In Braga, their Brazilian keeper Matheus produced two great saves – Hagi’s penalty and Florian Kamberi’s on target shot, while Ryan Kent missed a sitter.
Kent was one of the players who disappointed the Rangers fanbase in 2020, but he redeemed himself by scoring from an accurate Hagi pass.
Rangers forwards caused danger long before Kent’s golden goal, which will earn the club another Ibrox sell out and extra TV and prize money.
You don’t often see Scottish sides producing counter-attacking at its best and carving open good teams like Braga. But Rangers achieved it.
Gerrard’s side won the tie 4-2 on aggregate, with these two results improving Scotland’s co-efficient in the UEFA standings.
Congratulations to the manager and his players for this performance. A clean sheet in their fully deserved win, achieving a last 16 place for Rangers.
Record Sport team: Keith Jackson, Gordon Parks and Ross Pilcher, all predicted Braga to knock Rangers out and Celtic to go through.
There’s often a pathetic attitude shown towards Rangers from a section of Scotland’s reporters, but they seem happy if Celtic are successful.
Did they take into consideration Gerrard’s exceptional record in Europe, or is it possible that some journalists want the blue half of Glasgow to fail?
Celtic’s 4-2 aggregate defeat to FC Copenhagen means that Rangers are the only Scottish side through to the last 16 of the Europa League.
The last Scottish team to reach a European final was Rangers in 2007-08, when Walter Smith’s team lost 2-0 to Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester.
Despite dropping behind Celtic in the title race, Rangers manager Gerrard deserves credit for the club’s exploits on the continent this season.