STEVEN GERRARD believes there are “plenty of positives” to take from this evening’s victory over Shkupi, but warned his players they still have work to do.
The Ibrox manager watched on as Jamie Murphy and James Tavernier secured a 2-0 victory to take to Macedonia on Tuesday.
Overall, he admitted his satisfaction, and told RangersTV at full-time: “There are a lot of positives to take from the game. We have won it, we got the clean sheet and I thought we defended really well.
“We got the second goal in the end, but one concern would be we weren’t more comfortable and didn’t put the whole tie to bed tonight. I thought we created enough to win more convincingly, so we are still in a tie, we are still in a game and we still have work to do.
“The clean sheet is very important and it was nice to get a bit of relief with the second goal. I don’t think we can fault any of the players’ effort and commitment or application tonight.
“I thought they gave it everything and the fans stayed with them all the way through. I am very pleased about a lot of it; the only thing is we haven’t won the game more convincingly.
“But, we controlled a lot of it, most of it, and we were a bit careless at times in little moments but all-in-all, it’s the first game of the season – the first real game and people are trying to over impress and people are still a little bit tense.
“We are still searching for that full sharpness and full fitness, so all-in-all, yes, I’m satisfied.
“We had one moment in the first half where they grazed the bar, and then we had one set piece where we were a bit sloppy at the front post.
“Besides that, I think it was all Rangers and we had five or six decent chances to get some goals and maybe one or two shouts for penalties as well.
“I am happy with the control and how much a better team we look. But, we all have to look forward to Tuesday and realise we are still in a game and it’s not over. There is still a lot of work to do.”
Gerrard introduced Glenn Middleton for a debut late-on, and the youngster added some real impetus to the Gers performance late-on.
Gerrard was thrilled with his impact and continued: “[He was] superb. He deserved that debut because of how he played against Bury but also because of how he has done since the first day of pre-season.
“He has been magnificent and he has a future. He has a part to play and it is important now he enjoys tonight and then gets himself ready for the next game.”
The manager too was delighted with the support of the capacity Ibrox crowd tonight, although he was slightly disappointed not to have run up a bigger scoreline for them.
He added: “There was a bit of anxiety within the crowd as they were desperate for the second goal – as we all were. They realised that chance after chance was coming and going, and that’s when little bits of frustration kick-in.
“But I was very pleased with the atmosphere and the reception we got. It’s just a shame we couldn’t reward them with goals three and four.”