STEVEN GERRARD reckons his side deserve “a lot of credit tonight” after turning in a memorable performance to defeat Dutch giants Feyenoord at a raucous Ibrox.
Gerrard watched on as Sheyi Ojo’s first half strike separated the sides, with the goal coming in an incredible first half where Gers put the Dutch under all sorts of pressure.
Speaking to Rangers Media tonight, Gerrard explained: “We are pleased with the win and it is a big three points. If we have got any ambitions of progressing out of the group then we need to try and take maximum points at home against all the teams.
“It’s a wonderful start. I thought in the first half, we were outstanding – really, really good. I thought we played to the energy in the crowd and the emotion in the crowd and were on the front foot.
“We could have come in at half-time in a healthier position, but we didn’t. Feyenoord improved after the break and they had some good moments and Allan [McGregor] has had to make some good saves and they have had a lot of possession.
“But, in terms of game management they were doing everything they could out there – sticking together and getting over the line. I can’t praise my players enough, they deserve a lot of credit tonight.
“Even second half, when we were hanging in at times, when we won the ball back, Feyenoord were open and when we strung two or three passes together, we seemed to be in on top of their centre-backs, but we couldn’t capitalise.
“If I had to pick one fault in the team tonight, we never kept the ball enough in the second half when we won it back to allow us to breathe and move further up the pitch as we kept giving it back to them.
“But, that is me being picky and that is the way I am.”
Gers pressing game was a joy to watch at times, while the manager went on to discuss the tragic passing of Fernando Ricksen yesterday and how much that drove the team on to want to win for him tonight.
He continued, firstly on the pressing: “That was the game-plan, and I’m not sure Feyenoord are used to that intensity in the league with all due respect.
“We wanted to take them right out of their comfort zone by being aggressive and being on the front foot, and we wanted a performance that was fitting for the last 24 hours.
“It has been an emotional time for everyone connected to the club, and more importantly, for Fernando’s young family.
“All I wanted was for that whistle to go and for his family and him looking down to be really proud of the performance and I think the players gave him that.”
Among Gers missed chances tonight was a James Tavernier penalty which clipped the outside of the post before going wide.
The manager added: “Tav has scored some really big penalties for us and he has scored some really big goals. He is the type of captain who provides big moments, and unfortunately, it wasn’t his night tonight and he got the penalty wrong.
“But, we stick with him and he has been huge for us. He helped us keep a clean sheet and I think Tav, even though he is quite old in terms of being late 20s, at this level, he is still inexperienced.
“He needs to just forget about situations and setbacks and move on and focus on his game. In the main, I am very pleased with James Tavernier – there is no getting away from that.”
The winning goal, when it arrived from Sheyi Ojo, was a thing of beauty. Gerrard beamed: “It deserved to win the match. I thought it was a fantastic strike and that is what Sheyi is about. At times, he might not get it right but he is always intentionally trying to do the right thing for the team.
“He is a game-changer – whether that be through an assist, a dribble or through a strike like he did tonight. That’s the reason why I brought him in as he can make the difference in the final third and he could have had another one.
“I’ll be onto him over that – but that’s Sheyi. Sheyi is the type of player where one or two things might go wrong and then he’ll put one in the top corner from 25-yards. Get used to it and get behind him – that’s what he can do.”
And, on the support from the Rangers fans tonight, the manager said: “They deserved it. It has been a tough couple of days for everyone and without everyone knowing it, there is more pressure on the team to try and make the supporters happy to try and get them the win they all craved as they have been obviously very sad and down.
“I think the fans deserved that performance and I thought the supporters were outstanding. I thought we all came together tonight and stayed strong.”