A THRILLED Steven Gerrard lauded the collective effort of his players tonight as they knocked ‘Champions League’ class Maribor out of the Europa League.

The Ibrox gaffer was overjoyed with how his men performed at the Stadion Ljudski Vrt tonight to earn a 0-0 draw and a 3-1 win on aggregate.

Speaking to RangersTV, he said: “I am delighted with my players, and I thought every single one of them to a man did the job we asked of them. We know, coming off the back of a performance against St Mirren we couldn’t come here and play the same way – we knew we had to be more disciplined and be a little bit more defensively organised, but I still felt we carried a threat, especially as the game went on.

“We have knocked a Champions League team out of the qualifiers and they are devastated – they had confidence, they had ego coming into this game and they had no respect for us.

“But, my players have proved over two legs we are better than Maribor, and that pleases me and that gives me great confidence going forward.

“If you think about the issues we have in my team – the injuries – and we had an injury late to [Lassana] Coulibaly, or we got confirmation that he couldn’t play.

“We are still all new – we are still new as a team and these games are getting upon us on a Thursday, on a Sunday – it is a difficult schedule at the moment.

“But these players are giving everything for me and everything for the fans and more. I can’t speak highly of them enough – there are individuals there who deserve a lot of credit – Allan McGregor was a mountain for us tonight – what a man.

“Connor Goldson, again was top class – but everyone, collectively as a group every single person put in a great performance.”

Gerrard used the word ‘heroic’ to describe his men’s effort in the 1-0 win against Osijek, and continued: “I think even more so. It was heroic in Osijek, but as you go along, the challenge gets more difficult and the quality of player gets more difficult.

“You come up against teams that ask different questions, but at the moment, we have answers for them.

“If my players are giving me this so early, and they are showing they can carry out instructions having only been together for a short spell.

“I believe we will improve the squad with more personnel and the squad will become stronger. As a group, we will continue to grow, but what we need to understand is when we are at home and when we are at Ibrox, there is a certain way of playing.

“But when you come to difficult places, you have to show a different side and we are doing that very well at the minute.”

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