Rangers gave it a good go in Vienna last night, but they were distinctly lacking in a key area.
Alfredo Morelos, leading the line on his own, found himself isolated throughout, with only Glenn Middleton consistently taking on defenders in wide channels.
The Gers’ lack of pace and spark, highlights the full importance of one absentee on the night.
The Portuguese was controversially sent off against Villarreal in the penultimate group match. Therefore, his suspension ruled him out of last night’s decider.
Candeias is a provider-in-chief on the right flank, week in, week out. He registered an impressive ten assists last season, and under Steven Gerrard, he has become more of a goal threat.
In fact, he scored in three consecutive matches in November, against St Mirren, Spartak Moscow and Livingston.
Candeias offers quality in final third
The Gers badly missed his trickiness and endeavour on the right wing yesterday. By contrast, his replacement, Scott Arfield, made little impact on proceedings.
After the match, Steven Gerrard personally singled out Candeias’ absence as a decisive factor.
“I believe if we were full-strength tonight, the situation might have been a little easier.”
“To not have Candeias and Kent available, it affects the group”, the manager explained.
The 30-year-old is undoubtedly a gem of a player. Indeed, he offers a quality on the ball that just wasn’t shown by others in the final third last night.
Free to play domestically, he will undoubtedly return to the starting line-up against Hamilton at the weekend.
With Alfredo Morelos missing, it may be up to him to unlock the opposition defence, and guide Rangers back to winning ways.