WHILE recognising work still has to be done, Steven Gerrard tonight paid tribute to his Rangers side for their 1-0 win away to NK Osijek in the Europa League.
Gerrard branded some his players performances as ‘heroic’ and praised his players for meeting his pre-match expectation.
He told RangersTV at the Stadion Gradski: “I thought the performance was strong and I thought defensively, we were very good. I thought there were some heroic individual performances in among that. We asked the players before the game, ‘can we keep another clean sheet, and can we get a very important away goal?’
“So the players have delivered and I am very happy and satisfied so far, but at the same time, we have a lot of respect for the opposition, there is still work to do and we need another big performance in seven days’ time.
Gerrard handed debuts to Lassana Coulibaly and Ryan Kent, and on them, he said: “I am very pleased with them. If you take into consideration, Ryan Kent has only played two 45 minutes in friendly games, and he still has another level to go in to.
“It was a positive debut and he looked dangerous and the supporters can see what type of player he is going to be.
“Lassana was majestic and he covered every blade of grass. He was tough, he won tackles, he won duels, he gave us energy and he broke play up for us. That is his first 90 minutes – can you imagine what he is going to be like after five or six performances and five or six games in his legs?
“Tonight wasn’t a performance in terms of our attacking players – it wouldn’t have looked great on the eye. But, that is how you get success in Europe – you have got to come to players like this, weather the storm, be difficult to play against, not concede goals and try to get something at the other end.
“It was a wonderfully-worked free kick and we got our rewards. I feel a lot more positive here than I did for the Shkupi performance.”
That goal came from Alfredo Morelos, who won praise from Gerrard.
The manager continued: “We are very happy with him. His application and his workrate in training, and on and off the pitch, has been superb.
“I think he got his reward tonight for that – his performance was selfless and he ran his socks off, and the team, the goalkeeper are thanking him and giving him credit for the shift he put in for us. H should be proud of himself tonight.”