What. A. Night! The tension, the stakes, everything about it. This is what football is about. This is what supporting Rangers in Europe is all about. Legia fans turned up in their numbers and played their part, with a rather amusing banner unfurled at the start, although the smoke flairs was not so clever. However, the break in play while the smoke cleared allowed the fans (who were absolutely magnificent) to throw all of our support behind the players. And they responded, with a 90th minute header from our star striker the difference maker, and the scenes at full time will live with me forever. So who shone? Which players played the most important roles?
Allan McGregor – 7
Rangers had much more shots in the game, but there were a few opportunities for the Polish side as well. But on each occasion, McGregor stood up and dealt with them no bother. No remarkable saves to speak of, but safe hands once again.
James Tavernier – 6
Sadly, this was not the best night from our captain. Too many times he gave the ball away, that throw in was a dreadful mistake, and was too often caught out in possession. Not sure what it was about this game but he just wasn’t at it.
Connor Goldson – 8
I liked the fact he brought the ball forward himself and looked to set things in motion with some passes which, on another day, would have been much more dangerous. As a defender he made himself big, was in the right positions, and made it tough for the Warsaw strikers to get a proper shot away in the area.
Nikola Katic – 9 – Man of the Match
You, me, Rangers, the entire support in the stadium, the entire support watching the game elsewhere, your granny who doesn’t really pay attention to football and your dog, all of them thought Niko was man of the match in this game. You have to remember that our opposition are a good outfit offensively, but big Katic made them look average. He won every single aerial duel, a route often used by the Poles, he rallied his defence when things were getting tight, and he annoyed Legia so much that they wanted to batter him at the end. He is our best defender right now. He is going to be a star for the Croatian National Team. He is one of our stars right now.
Borna Barisic – 7
A lot of people would have been surprised to see Borna start this game. Perhaps it was a challenge set by Steven Gerrard following his heroics in Paisley. “Go out and prove that you can make a difference in these kind of games.” I have to say, he did better than I expected him too. There looked to be more determination in him to chase lost causes, to swing in delicious crosses, and most of all he looked like he wanted to prove himself. He was unfortunate to go off as early as he did due to the head knock he sustained at the start of the second half. But, the Barisic of last season does not stay on for as long as he did here, so I just wonder if something has tweaked in his head and we will see a better Borna going forward.
Ryan Jack – 8
Off the back of his Scotland call up, I thought Jack had yet another game where we saw him play the ball forward and perform the duties of a proper central midfielder. I remember back to Steven Gerrard saying he was “jealous” of a Ryan Jack performance in Europe last season. Of late he has consistently been putting in these types of performances. And I also think that people who are suggesting that he is a holding midfielder still are not strictly accurate anymore. I’d call him box to box just now, maybe even a deep lying playmaker.
Steven Davis – 8
Thought Davis was incredible in the second half of this game. His energy to get back, sweep up, look up, find his man, deliver the ball expertly, all of that was on show. His role is far from a glamorous one, but boy is it great to have someone who does it so well.
Joe Aribo – 7
He is not the only player who we can say this for, but I think Aribo could do with putting his feet up for a week and not worry about playing. I don’t know whether it is to do with being tired, or whether he is being targeted more by oppositions, but I think his last few games have seen a bit of a drop in the total quality we have seen up to now. Don’t get me wrong, we still saw some lovely close control and dribbles past defenders, but they aren’t game defining. Or, and this could well be the case, I’ve simply grown used to his high level and am myself being complacent.
Scott Arfield – 6
He’s another player who needs time in front of the TV. Early on he made two solid interceptions, yet failed to take advantage of the situation on both occasions. After that, there was very little to look back on and say “he made a huge contribution to X” and I think this is down to a level of fatigue that he is not willing to admit to and that Steven Gerrard is willing to overlook in favour of his effort, which is huge for these kind of games. He will likely play on Sunday, but after that he needs to rest. The good news is he isn’t in the Canada squad for the international matches they have, so he can recover.
Alfredo Morelos – 7
I am very aware that a lot of people would expect him to receive a higher rating than this, he was the hero after all. However, let’s not forget the 90 minutes in which he was pretty average, missing a chance that he really should have buried, poor passes in the middle that gave possession away, not what we know he can do. Many people around me, including my increasingly irritated father, wanted him subbed off. I’m glad they aren’t our manager. He gets on the end of the cross and heads in beautifully, under that kind of pressure as well. That, along with how he managed the end of the game, will see him looked on more favourably than what he very nearly would have been. He is, however, one of a number of players whose attitude has improved dramatically since last season, that was key.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
After a couple of nice touches early on and getting past the Polish right back, there really wasn’t anything that we saw from Sheyi here. I think what we have here is an incredibly hot and cold player. When he is on it, my god it makes a difference, but when he is having a bad day it really shows. This game was not one that he looked hot in.
Jon Flanagan – 6
Came on for the injured Barisic and did his usual stray passes that put many heads in hands. But he put in challenges and at the end of the day, no goal was conceded, so you can’t say he was terrible.
Jordan Jones – 8
Great impact off the bench, including the cross he put in for the goal. Made some great runs down the left which put their defence into a panic, and he looks like a guy who loves the big occasion *cough* SUNDAY *cough*. He is someone who, in my opinion, should have come on for Ojo earlier on. Although, saying that, I wouldn’t change a thing from Thursday night!
Glen Kamara – N/A
Did he touch the ball at any point? A sub to see out the game with mere minutes left, good game management from the coaching staff.