Gerrard: Rangers close to perfect after kick-starting Europa League campaign

By Sports Desk October 21, 2021

Steven Gerrard says Rangers were close to perfect as they claimed an important victory over Brondby in the Europa League.

First-half goals from Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe sealed a 2-0 win at Ibrox – and the hosts' first points of this season's competition.

That helped Gerrard's team move off the bottom of Group A at the halfway stage, while closing the gap on second-placed Sparta Prague to just a single point.

The Rangers boss admitted the pressure was on his side, who began their campaign with defeats against Sparta and runaway leaders Lyon.

But he was ultimately delighted with the way his players rose to the occasion on Thursday.

"I thought it was a strong home performance in Europe," Gerrard told BT Sport.

"We've kick-started our Europa League campaign. The first two results haven't been good enough, which put a lot of pressure on us tonight.

"But we've got to go and replicate this performance and result [away at Brondby] in a couple of weeks' time.

"I thought the fans were magnificent. The game plan we set out to do, the players have delivered.

"It's really close to the performance we're looking for. 

"We've played well for halves and 60 minutes, but tonight was really close to a perfect 90-minute performance."

Gerrard also hailed the display of Joe Aribo, who provided a constant threat to the reigning Danish Superliga champions with his pace and power.

No Rangers player was involved in more duels (15) than the winger, who also completed 58 of his 62 passes and only James Tavernier (111) among the hosts' team bettered his tally of 93 touches.

The 25-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Ibrox, with Gerrard admitting it will be difficult to retain his services should he continue to perform to a high level. 

"He's a great kid; he wants to learn and he wants to grow," the Rangers boss added.

"What I've said to Joe is: 'you're a much better player when you play angry in a nice way. You're a big strong lad; go and put yourself about' and when he does, he's a joy to watch.

"I thought his first 45-minute performance was outstanding. That's probably the reason why he tired a little bit, but he's played a lot and he's been away on international duty [with Nigeria]. 

"But if he can find that performance consistently over 90 minutes, we'll be lucky to keep hold of him."

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