Giovanni van Bronckhorst praised key players at both ends of the park, as Alfredo Morelos and Allan McGregor combined to put Rangers into the Europa League knock-out stages for a third straight season.
The new Ibrox boss made a winning start to his reign, tweaking his team’s formation after watching them humbled by Hibs in Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup semi-final.
On a night when Morelos scored twice to take his tally of European goals for Rangers to 27, McGregor pulled off a miraculous late double save to secure the two-goal win they needed to secure passage to the play-off round.
Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst won his first game in charge of Rangers on Thursday
Now looking forward to place a team dropping out of the Champions League group stage, Van Bronckhorst paid tribute to a goalkeeper who was on the Ibrox books when the Dutchman played for the club 20 years ago.
‘He’s incredible,’ said the former Barcelona and Arsenal full-back. ‘You see a lot of experienced goalkeepers. He’s a certain age, shall we say, where normal players retire.
‘Goalies go on further, of course. And today he had some absolutely vital saves.’
Van Bronckhorst also revealed that he’d instructed Morelos, who had looked lost and struggling for motivation in recent weeks, to concentrate on what he does best – by staying in a central role and hunting goals.
‘I think he did really well,’ said the new gaffer. ‘He’s a striker who can create danger. I wanted him to play more towards the box.
The Scottish side beat Sparta Prague in their Europa League game at the brox Stadium thanks to a brace from Alfredo Morelos (right)
‘Sometimes he wants to drop deep into midfield but, with the wingers we have, we should always create chances from crosses. He took his goals really well.
‘I think this was a good look at my ideas. The way we played today, we had the biggest chances to play the game.
‘With the wingers we have and the full-backs we have, we can go forward at the right times and also control the game.
‘When we attack, we have to think about what happens we lose the ball. We did that tonight.
‘I think we had everything. From the first minute we were in the game, pressing them, we were having a good rhythm of play and creating chances.
‘We created enough in the first half to win the game. So I was very proud of the guys.
Ryan Kent (above) also showed signs of his old self, while Joe Aribo buzzed with intent but couldn’t find a finish. In truth, Rangers should have scored more
‘They kept pushing for the win. In the end, 2-0 will see us through.
‘Of course the guys were down after Sunday but they were also determined to get a good result.
‘The clean sheet is always good. Because we know we always create chances with the way we want to play.
‘In the end, they had one header – and some great saves in the end.
‘But, if you see all the chances we got, it shouldn’t have been close in the end.
Veteran midfielder Steven Davis added: ‘We knew it was going to be a difficult game but we were delighted with how we started.
At the age of 39, Allan McGregor made a truly astonishing double save in the final minutes to preserve the precious scoreline. It was goalkeeping of eye-popping brilliance
‘We maybe had to dig deep towards the end as they threw bodies forward. But we’re delighted to get a result and get through.
‘It doesn’t make up for Sunday. We want to win domestic cups. But we were delighted to get that reaction after the weekend.
‘There are still things to improve on. But I was pleased to see a lot of the aspects we did work on being shown in the performance.
‘It’s easy to point fingers after Sunday’s game. We have to take responsibility for that as players.
‘But it was important to show a reaction.’
Former Rangers striker Ally McCoist, on TV duty for BT Sport, said: ‘It should have been four or five.
Scott Arfield, who claimed a non-consolation goal at the weekend, was dropped to the bench
‘I was on the edge of my seat for the last 15 minutes. It was a bit too nervy for my liking.
‘I thought Rangers played pretty well for 30 minutes of both halves. The last 15 minutes of both halves they disappeared a little bit.
‘But make no mistake about it – it’s an excellent result – and that’s the most important thing.
‘Morelos will be delighted with his two goals. They needed that result for the morale, for the fans, the players and in Gio’s first game, particularly after what happened at the weekend. It was just what the doctor ordered.
‘We knew Lyon were the best side in the group by miles so it was about grabbing second spot.
‘It’s a great achievement – European football after Christmas.’
Tavernier had a stellar performance and provided a forward pass ahead of their first goal