RANGERS return to European football ended in victory tonight, but this tie is still well alive ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Luxembourg.
Kenny Miller, fittingly, scored the only goal of the game shortly before half-time, and Gers had a number of other opportunities to make the game next week much more comfortable.
As was to be expected, the teams emerged into a raucous, joyous atmosphere, with every Rangers supporter seemingly keen to make the club’s first European tie in six years a night to remember.
The opening stages saw Pedro Caixinha’s side take almost total ownership of the ball, although chances were at a premium, with Progrès happy to sit with two deep banks of four to try and prevent any chances for the Gers.
With 15 minutes played, a superb lay-off from Martyn Waghorn found Niko Kranjcar in space, 25 yards from goal, and he lashed the ball goalwards only to see his effort slip just to the left of the target.
Soon after, after a Kranjcar corner was cleared as far as Dalcio, the Portuguese delivered a good looking ball into the area for Fabio Cardoso to meet with his head, but his effort was slightly off-target before James Tavernier popped up out on the right, sending a great cross to the back post where Kranjcar met it, though his header again was off-target.
The traffic was all one-way, and next to have an effort was David Bates, a Kranjcar corner landing at his feet before he shot over the bar in a crowded six-yard box.
Eventually, with 37 minutes showing on the Ibrox clock, the long-awaited goal came, and unsurprisingly, Kranjcar was involved.
A handball deep in the Progrès half handed Rangers a free-kick. Some terrific quick-thinking from the Croatian saw him find Kenny Miller and with the Luxembourgers asleep, he slid the ball past Sebastian Flauss and into the back of the net.
It was just so appropriate for Miller to be the man for Gers given his European history with the club, and it gave the Light Blues some added impetus as the break approached.
Firstly, Lee Wallace fed Dalcio at the front post with Flauss denying him before the goalkeeper spilt a Kranjcar drive which the visiting defence managed to sweep up, and then Flauss produced a terrific save to claw away a Fabio Cardoso diving header.
Into the second half, and Miller came close to adding to his tally for the evening within two minutes of the restart. After some nice, interchanging play between he and Jason Holt down the left wing, Miller peeled inside to the edge of the area where Holt found him, with the striker sending a shot just wide of the target.
Niderkorn then showed they could pose a threat, with a quick free-kick evading David Bates and allowing Alexander Karapetian to shoot for goal, with Wes Foderingham called into action for the first time to push away his effort.
Daniel Candeias was handed his debut just shy of the hour mark, and he came close to a goal on his debut with Flauss saving with his legs after he shot from the edge of the box.
In added time, David Bates had a header cleared off the line after Fabio Cardoso knocked it into his path from a Daniel Candeias cross, but 1-0 was how it finished, and Gers now travel to Luxembourg with plenty of work still to do.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Cardoso, Wallace, Dalcio, Jack, Miller, Kranjcar (Rossiter, 68), Holt (Candeias, 58), Bates, Waghorn (Morelos, 76).
SUBS: Alnwick, Windass, Beerman, Ross McCrorie.
PROGRES NIEDERKORN: Flauss, O Thill (Vogel, 81) , Schneider (Fiorani, 90), Francoise, Watzka, Ferino, Lafon, S Thill, Karayer, Mathias, Karapetian (Sully, 86).
SUBS: Schinker, Marques, Mastrangelo, Barbaro.