STEVEN Gerrard admits he is proud of how far his Rangers side have come in Europe – saying Group G of the Europa League is still “wide open” going into the final two games.
The Gers saw an 11 game unbeaten run in the competition come to an end against Spartak Moscow on Thursday evening in a seven goal thriller.
Gerrard’s side dropped to third in their group after the result but they are level on points with the Russians and just a point off Villarreal who come to Ibrox in two weeks’ time.
Reflecting today the manager said: “Where we are, if we analyse it properly, I think we have to be very proud about what the team has achieved so far.
“I have to be careful and realise where we are as a team compared to Spartak.
“If you think about where they were 12 months ago and where we were 12 months ago, I think they beat Seville 5-1 12 months ago and we didn’t even qualify for the competition.
“We are still wide open with a really good chance of getting through, so we have to look at the big picture.
“The reality is we are punching above our weight at the moment and we are doing really, really well – if you are talking about Europe in general.
“We predicted at the beginning that it would go to the wire when the group was announced and I still think that will be the case.
“I am actually really excited this morning and looking forward to the Villarreal game. I can’t wait for it.”
The game turned in a mad 69 seconds at the start of the second-half when the Light Blues conceded twice after going in at the break 3-2 up.
Gerrard says he will speak to his squad about their defensive display but is confident they have the intelligence to realise where they went wrong before Motherwell visit Glasgow’s south side this Sunday.
He continued: “I have to analyse it properly. I have to be fair to the players and respectful but at the same time challenge them so I’ll always push them.
“But it’s very important that I’m not too heavy and too critical because these players have been put together in a short space of time and they are not as experienced as the teams and the players they are coming up against at this level.
“They are giving us everything they have got but at the same time it is my job to analyse and tell people where they need to improve and whet they have done well as well.
“In terms of the basic mistakes we made from defensive point of view we’ve got good people on the dressing room and they are honest, they are open.
“The way we debrief and analyse games, it’s open for players to talk and learn – that’s the environment we want and the players are not stupid.
“They know and understand but at the same time, even having made the mistakes we came very close to getting a result. So there were a lot of positives in there as well.”