As the new-look Rangers team toiled against Servette, it was old guard Borna Barisic and James Tavernier who combined to ensure Champions League progression.

Both the Ibrox right-back and his left-sided companion have been the subject of much criticism heading into the early part of this season, Rangers’ rebuild not extending wide enough for some disenchanted fans.

For some, James Tavernier has shown the inevitable signs of aging as he continues to belie his 31 years with athletic, relentless and direct wing-back play.

Similarly, Borna Barisic, although never considered quite as mobile as his Ibrox skipper, has begun to regress, the left-back’s yo-yo’ing spell at Rangers supposed to be consigned to history by Turkish international Ridvan Yilmaz.

But both James Tavernier and Borna Barisic proved their Champions League worth for Rangers by combining to score the all-important goal in a 1-1 draw v Servette in Switzerland that ensured Playoff progression.

Rangers v St. Johnstone - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
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Borna Barisic & James Tavernier combine to down Servette

From one wing-back to another, Borna Barisic added his second assist of the tie by angling a deep cross towards the back post where, our apparently increasingly geriatric captain, was once again at the back post to add his second goal over the two legs.

Branding the run his “trademark” come the end of the clash with Servette, James Tavernier once again answered his captaincy critics by leading by example and seemingly defying his age to pop up behind the last man at the back stick.

Not that criticism of both players hasn’t been somewhat justified if not overblown; Borna Barisic’s inconsistent Rangers career and oft-timid defensive displays are enough to induce palpitations in some.

Similarly, against Servette the goal against once again came on James Tavernier’s side with the Rangers skipper’s lung-busting exertions a routine target for the opposition defensively.

Rangers v Raith Rovers - Scottish Cup
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But with no-one perfect inside or outside Ibrox, Michael Beale and Rangers are betting against the weaknesses of both players overcoming their undoubted strengths.

Borna Barisic has a world-class delivery and in world football there are few right-backs who can deliver the consistency and big moments that James Tavernier has for Rangers.

Their Ibrox experience might position them both as Ibrox whipping boys when backs are against the wall, but when the chips were down and Champions League millions were on the line, their contribution has once again been priceless.

If Rangers are going to get past PSV Eindhoven in the Playoff, then something tells us that either or both of this experienced pair will be instrumental in doing so.

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