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Rangers beat Slovenia’s Maribor to advance into Europa play-offs


Allan McGregor

Allan McGregor pulled off a terrific save to deny Amir Dervisevic

Rangers must beat Russian side FC Ufa to reach the Europa League group stage after easing past Maribor 3-1 on aggregate.

Steven Gerrard’s side drew 0-0 in Slovenia after Allan McGregor saved Marcos Tavares’ stoppage-time penalty.

Scotland international McGregor had earlier denied Tavares and Amir Dervisevic during a professional showing from the Premiership side.

Rangers will now join Celtic in the competition’s play-off round.

The first leg against European debutants Ufa will be at Ibrox next Thursday, before the return in Russia a week later.

If the Scottish Premiership side progress, it will be the first time they will have reached the group stage of European competition since the 2010/11 Champions League.

  • Maribor showed Rangers ‘no respect’ – Gerrard
  • Reaction relive Rangers’ performance
  • ‘If you want Morelos, blow us out the water’ – Gerrard

Rangers surpassing all expectations

With a two-goal cushion from the first leg at Ibrox, there was no need for Rangers to leave themselves exposed at the Ljudski vrt Stadium.

Attacking was not their priority, with a tame Alfredo Morelos shot the sum total of their efforts going forward in the first half.

With Andy Halliday deputising for the suspended Jon Flanagan and the ineligible Borna Barisic, there was a potential vulnerability on the left-side of the Rangers defence, but early Maribor pressure failed to yield any results for the hosts.

McGregor’s save to deny Dervisevic’s 30-yard free-kick was as close as Darko Milanic’s men came to a half-time lead.

And it was the 91st minute before the Scotland goalkeeper was properly tested again, the 36-year-old saving Tavares’ spot-kick after Luka Zahovic was tripped by Connor Goldson.

The save ensured Gerrard takes his record to eight games undefeated at the start of his tenure, something which will have likely surpassed the expectations of many supporters.

Maintaining that against Ufa, who are currently sixth in the Russian top flight, would take Gerrard’s growing reputation as a coach to even greater heights.

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‘Gerrard does not tolerate slackers’ – analysis

BBC Scotland’s Alasdair Lamont in Maribor

This was another example of how Rangers have grown under Gerrard. They managed the game superbly, absorbing Maribor pressure, killing their momentum and limiting them to relatively few chances. Gerrard has his players well drilled, with each of them knowing their role with and without the ball.

Their industry is also markedly improved on recent Rangers teams – Gerrard clearly does not tolerate slackers. But from Morelos all the way back to the defence, they chased and harried and thoroughly deserved to go through. The new manager’s honeymoon period continues.