“IT feels like victory” was Steven Gerrard’s reaction as 10-man Rangers held firm to record a goalless draw at home to Villarreal tonight.
After having Daniel Candeias sent off in the first half, Gers showed outstanding grit to keep their expensively-assembled opponents out in front of yet another raucous Ibrox crowd.
Gerrard lauded the performance, and speaking to Rangers.co.uk, the manager said: “It was a fantastic effort and we are very proud of every single one of our players from back to front. Allan McGregor had two world-class saves and he was big for us tonight, as were the two centre-halves and across the back.
“It was a performance where we had to dig in and put our bodies on the line at the last-ditch. We did ever so well to get a clean-sheet.
“The midfielders put in so much effort and energy, and were sliding across and covering for each other, and the lads up front had to chase a lot of shadows, but they were very selfless in their performance.
“It feels like a victory with the circumstances, and I would like to thank the supporters for getting behind the team because without them roaring us on and cheering us on, it is very difficult to get over the line in those situations.
“When I came in and took this job, the biggest thing I wanted to create was togetherness and that siege mentality – whatever the match, we stick together and we fight for each other.
“We went back to basics and got all our principals right in pre-season and the lads have been carrying that on throughout the season.
“That is the reason why we still have an unbeaten record at home.”
Yet again, McGregor was a colossus in goal for the Light Blues, with Gerrard continuing: “He was huge, and man of the match – but man of the match could have been any one of them. They were all big tonight and everyone stood up.
“I think performances like that show that we have a good togetherness and team spirit as when we do lose a man, everyone digs in and not only did they do their own job, they made up for the man we had lost.
“Daniel Candeias – he has a lot of friends in that dressing room.
On the red card for the Portuguese, Gerrard continued: “I would like to see it again and I would like to see it nice and clearly. We have to decide when we see it if we have an opinion as it could be a mistaken identity-type scenario.
“But we will analyse and look at it right now. It was over the other side of the pitch, so it was very difficult to judge from where I was.”
The final match in Group G sees Gers travel to face Rapid Vienna knowing a win sees them through to the last 32, and the manager admits it’s a situation he would have been delighted with when the group was drawn.
He said: “We would certainly have taken it at the beginning. We have played four qualifying rounds and a lot of group games now against top opposition.
“Villarreal spent £80million now – a huge amount of money and over two games they haven’t been able to beat us, and we had 10 men for a lot of the second game.
“So I am very proud of the players and we have done ever-so well. Now I hope they can go and reward themselves with one last top performance that can get them to the last-32.”