Steven Gerrard insists Galatasaray will be favourites against Rangers
Steven Gerrard insists Rangers are still not favourites to make it a hat-trick of Europa League group stage qualifications despite their Dutch masterclass in Tilburg.
The Ibrox side were rampant in Holland as they crushed Willem II 4-0 to tee-up a winner-takes-all clash with Galatasaray in Glasgow next Thursday.
James Tavernier stroked home his 50th goal for the club after being restored to penalty duties, while Ryan Kent – who won the spot-kick – scored and then teed up Filip Helander for the third.
Connor Goldson rounded off a crushing win to leave the Light Blues just 90 minutes away from reaching the group stage for the third year running.
But the Gers boss knows his team will have a much stiffer test against the Turkish outfit, who boast Colombia star Radamel Falcao and Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate Ryan Babel among their ranks.
Gerrard said: “Listen, we will certainly take confidence from tonight and tap into our results from the last couple of years.
“But, let’s have it right, Galatasaray are a big club, a massive team and they are certainly coming to Ibrox as favourites, for sure.
“It is very frustrating, obviously, not to have our full house and that atmosphere behind us that would give us some kind of advantage.
“But I think it is going to be a really tough game without that there.
“The players deserve the opportunity and we will give it everything that we have got.”
Tavernier was back on spot-kicks for the first time 11 months after being stood down last term on the back of three misses in quick succession.
But he held his nerve to bring up his half-century for Rangers after Kent was tripped in the box.
The £7million winger continued his impressive start to the campaign by slotting home his fifth goal of the season on the rebound from an Alfredo Morelos strike, then swung over a delicious cross for Helander to score from early after the break.
Goldson refused to be outdone by his defensive partner and added a fourth but Gers also had goalkeeper Allan McGregor – back in goal for just his third start of the season – to thank after he made three vital stops to keep their ninth clean sheet of the campaign.
But it was Kent who was singled out for special praise from Gerrard.
“From an attacking point of view, I think he was the game changer for us tonight,” he said. “He does incredibly well running in behind and he has added that into his game this season.
“He gets us the penalty for the breakthrough and he is just a constant threat. He is so sharp and he has added a different dimension to his game, added numbers to his game. We just need to enjoy him.
“He knows he is a big player for the club and knows the fans are all behind him. He knows that when he brings his A-game that brings us an awful lot better chance to win.
“That goes across the park and I think everyone turned up tonight. Allan McGregor was outstanding in goal. It would have been a lot different if it wasn’t for him.
“From Allan down to (Alfredo) Morelos, everyone has taken responsibility. We said we needed a good European performance to get the job done and the players have provided that.”