Rangers played went down to 10 men once again on Thursday, and Lassana Coulibaly has stated what Steven Gerrard said to his players after Rangers’ 0-0 stalemate with Villarreal.
Daniel Candeias was sent off in dramatic, and confusing, circumstances against the Yellow Submarine on Thursday night. This left Rangers a man down for the second half, and Gerrard’s side managed to survive the Villarreal onslaught in the second half.
The result has given Rangers a good chance of qualification. A win away to Rapid Vienna in the last group game will secure a round of 32 berth for Rangers.
Coulibaly has now shared what Gerrard said to his players after they came into the dressing room at full-time.
As quoted by the Evening Times, Coulibaly said: “[The manager] says it was very good because it is not easy to play 10 against 11 so everyone had to work hard from the keeper to the striker.
“Everyone gave all their energy so he was happy for that.”
A team effort was key to success
This result showed the belief in this Rangers side. In the face of adversity, they managed to walk away from the challenge relatively unscathed. It might not be the best result in the context of the group. As a one-off performance however, it is a great result for Gerrard’s side.
Alan McGregor will, and should, take most of the plaudits from this game. He made numerous saves to deny Karl Toko Ekambi, as well as some crucial stops in the second half. It’s a minor miracle he kept a clean sheet and without him Rangers would have been beaten comfortably.
That said, that’s not to say there weren’t some good performances from the other nine men on the pitch. Scott Arfield continued his impressive form in the middle, and added a defensive side to his game. He made numerous challenges and helped Ryan Jack limit the ability of Pablo Fornals.
James Tavernier managed to hold down the right-hand side on his lonesome after Candeias’ departure. Jack himself got through lots of work in the middle of the park, with the former Aberdeen man seemingly covering every blade of grass on the Ibrox turf.
The positives far outweigh the negatives for Gerrard heading towards the crucial clash in Austria. If Rangers are to progress from this group, an equally heroic performance against Vienna will be needed.