On a night where emotions were already high, Rangers began their Europa League Group Stage campaign at home to Eredivisie giants Feyenoord. How apt that we would play a Dutch side on a night that we would say thank you to one of our greatest players to come from The Netherlands, and fans were hoping the team could produce a display that would pay tribute to Fernando. An exceptional first half display was slightly overshadowed by the fact we should have been a lot further ahead than just 1-0. Jaap Stam’s side changed tactics in the second half and put a lot of pressure on the Gers, and even though our second half display was nowhere near as good, we held on to start Group G with three points. A mix of sublime and poor, performances of both quality and grit and ultimately a winner. A finer tribute would be hard to make up.
Allan McGregor – 8
Had a fairly quiet first half, especially compared to the second half. The Feyenoord attack really went all in trying to grab an equaliser, and on the occasions that they were able to break into or box, McGregor would time and again make the crucial stops. We are so used to this now, but this should never take away from the fact that he is one of the best goalkeepers we have seen at Rangers in the modern era, and when he plays as well as this, it’s not out with the realms of possibility that his name will be followed by the word “Legend.”
James Tavernier – 6
The scene was set. We had just won an early penalty for a handball. Almost immediately, we all recognised who was going to step up to take the responsibility. Our captain. Our number 2. “A goal from this man would be some tribute.” Maybe this added pressure was on his mind, as he would hit the outside of the post. Sadly,I think this set up the rest of his night. His crossing was not really effective and he was too open defensively, just as well their left back was absolutely rotten.
Connor Goldson – 6
When I think back on the second half, and the many attacking opportunities Feyenoord had, a lot of the most threatening ones came down our right hand side, which suggests that Goldson also struggled against the likes of Larsson and Sinisterra. On top of that, his distribution was not really there either.
Filip Helander – 8
Many fans were shocked to see Helander line up instead of Katic, but boy did the big Swede show why we paid the money for him. He looked so comfortable against this level of opponent. Good in the air, solid in the tackle, and a calming influence when it was needed. It really did not look like he had hardly played for us up to this point, this was the kind of display that puts him as a near cert to play in the next big tie.
Borna Barisic – 8
The best game that Borna Barisic has played in a Rangers shirt, and the finest he has played at Ibrox since his game for Osijek against us. He looked like a proper left back, performing the duties in both an attacking and defensive sense. His contribution to the goal was key, he did not shy away from the challenge when in the past he absolutely would have. And the man who was mentioned as being their biggest danger, Berghuis, had no joy down the right wing, because Borna Bear didn’t let him. As many have said already, it’s nice to finally meet you Mr Barisic!
Ryan Jack – 8
You talk about what you expect from a Rangers central midfielder, and you talk about the way that Ryan Jack continues to play. He is making himself an undroppable player in the big games, controlling his area of the field, being an outlet when required, and always looking to win the ball back and get things going. Delightful stuff.
Steven Davis – 9 – Man of the Match
This has to go down as one of the finest games Steven Davis has played for Rangers, certainly in his second spell, and possibly overall as well. Time after time after time, he won the ball, played the correct pass, and set the correct tempo each and every time. I adore how easy he makes it look, the intricate passing moves on the flanks, the speed in which he can move with the ball, it was a truly excellent midfield shift.
Glen Kamara – 7
I think one of the things that lets Glen Kamara down sometimes is the fact that he isn’t as good a passer of the ball as you would expect for a central midfielder. There are a few too many occasions where he will give the ball away cheaply by playing an almost lazy pass. For a player in the middle of the park, that is a worry. However, he makes up for the folly with three key features. He dribbles well with the ball, he has very good close control, and he is strong. With those factors in mind, it makes sense why he plays in games like this, having that kind of player in your middle trio is no bad thing.
Scott Arfield – 7
How unlucky was he to not score in the first half!? I was certain his shot was destined for the top corner, sadly it hit that area between the post and crossbar. And he played very well in the first half, always looking to get the ball moving swiftly in the final third. The issue was the second half, after the hour mark you could see that he had busted a gut and was a prime candidate to come off, yet he was kept on until very near the end. In that time, he very nearly cost us a goal, so a lot of this is on Steven Gerrard I think, he needs to take Arfield off sooner in scenarios like that, fresher legs in that area of the park will always trump the extensive work rate with more tired legs. But you just get the impression that Arf is Stevie’s boy and he loves having him on the field.
Alfredo Morelos – 8
I’m fairly certain that both Feyenoord centre backs will be glad for not having to face Big Buff for a couple of months. The turn past his man on the move shows speed, strength and smarts, it’s gorgeous to see every time he does it. It would have been a man of the match worthy performance had it not been for the fact that he could not find a finish to go with that. And there were maybe a couple of times, as we have seen before, where he wanted to take the shot on rather than cut the ball back for a teammate. Nevertheless, it was another great night from Alfie.
Sheyi Ojo – 8
I’m pretty sure that ball would still be travelling now (no matter when you read this) had it not been for the net being in the way. What a hit that was! It’s bold for someone who really does get a fair amount of stick from the crowd to take that on, and I wonder whether he managed to put some frustration into that hit. He had some decent dribbles in the first half as well, just worried that he did not put in as much effort in the second half, almost with an attitude of “I’ve done my job boys”. I guess we as a support just need to accept that he will be very up and down in performance levels. But the good is so good that it’s worth it.
Brandon Barker – 7
The first substitute, and he had 15 minutes to show a similar level of impact that he had at the weekend, albeit against much better adversaries. He was brave enough to take on some dribbles, despite them not leading to anything, but after a certain point his ability to do what he is best at was no longer the focus, so his chance to make a mark was taken away.
Joe Aribo – 7
Joe Aribo is a very smart footballer. The way he managed the end of that game was brilliant, keep it in the corner, stay strong, don’t do anything risky. He might actually be a very useful impact sub in these European games, as he can fulfil a number of tasks depending on what’s required.
Andy King – 6
Again, nowhere near enough time on the field to show his absolute best. But, please Stevie, let’s see him start a game yeh?