A DELIGHTED Steven Gerrard tonight admitted his pride after his Rangers side beat a top-class Porto team to put them in a fantastic position in Europa League Group G.
The Light Blues overcame a tough start against the Portuguese giants before Alfredo Morelos and Steven Davis netted four minutes apart in the second half to secure yet another famous European win at Ibrox.
Gers have a three point cushion over Porto and Feyenoord, and also the advantage as it stands over the duo on the head-to-head rule ahead of the trip to Rotterdam at the end of the month and then the match with BSC Young Boys at Ibrox on matchday six.
Gerrard, speaking after the game to Rangers Media beamed: “I feel very happy and very proud of the players. I thought the second half performance was very good and very strong.
“I thought we started to grow into the game after 30/35 minutes and I thought we finished the first half a lot better than we started the game.
“But we asked the players for more at half-time – more belief and they backed themselves more to try and find those moments of quality that could really hurt Porto.
“And I thought they did that. I thought Porto’s speed and shape in the forward positions maybe rattled us a bit in the opening 15-20 minutes, but we certainly grew into the game and finished ever so strong.”
Morelos’ touch and finish to put Gers ahead tonight were right out of the top-drawer, with Gerrard continuing: “Stunning. Wow. On your so-called weak side it was an incredible finish and I even liked the build-up play with Tav being aggressive and positive with a fantastic slide to get it to Jacko.
“We then showed great composure by not just tossing it into the box – it was a lovely reverse pass and then Alfredo does what he does, and that is the reason why there is so much fuss about him.”
Davis’ second secured the points and put the seal on an unforgettable evening for the club, with the manager adding: “We didn’t just want to protect the one goal lead. Borna plays a lovely pass into the channel for Alfredo, and again, from the other side of the pitch, we showed great composure.
“We cap out, play a lovely pass and if you don’t shoot you don’t score – we are probably a team that maybe needs to score more goals from outside the box, but I am very pleased Davo took it on and he got his bit of luck with the little deflection – but it is a great goal to kill the game off.”
It was Davis’ 250th appearance in the blue of Rangers, making his goal all the more fitting.
“He is just a fantastic person,” continued Gerrard. “He is a top professional who goes about his work really well, and I have nothing but admiration for him.
“I think when he first came he was short of football and short of sharpness and it took him a little while to get going.
“When he did get going, wow, he is some footballer to watch. Clever, always in the right position, a lovely little footballer and he just knows the game.”
As usual on these sort of nights, the atmosphere inside Ibrox was quite incredible, the manager saying: “I asked for it in the couple of days building-up to the game as I felt it was needed. You could see the place, the energy – and the players thrive off that.
“I thought they were a little bit frustrated in the first half an hour – but so were we all. But at times, you have to understand you are playing against good players and against a good team.
“But we all stayed together – the players, the fans, the staff and what another wonderful night we can all enjoy now.”
And, asked how he vies the group with two games left, Gerrard responded: “We are in a nice position. We have got control and we are where we want to be, but we have two really tough fixtures to go.
“We need to park the Europa League up now and focus on Livingston and trying to get a positive away win there before the international break.
“Then, when Feyenoord comes round, we’ll give it all the attention it needs and we will have a game-plan that will hopefully go there and take something from that game.”