Rangers, under new boss Steven Gerrard, enjoyed an optimistic inception of their 2018-19 season following a UEFA Europa League first qualifying round win over Macedonian outfit FK Shkupi ( 2-0 over two legs). However, a lack of conversion higher up the pitch has been a matter of concern for the iconic Liverpool and England midfield sensation who is having his maiden senior managerial stint and set to undergo an uphill task of restoring the lost pride at the Ibrox transforming the underwhelming Gers into a title contender once more knocking down famous rivals Celtic who have emerged as a supreme Scottish force in the past decade. The Light Blues had a tricky away encounter against Croatian opponents Osijek tonight at Stadion Gradski vrt and were upbeat before the challenge to script a winning start of the second round of qualification. The game, meanwhile, proved to be a close encounter but the visitors clinched a narrow 1-0 victory banking on Alfredo Morelos’ 18th-minute opener and stood up to the pressure to defend the lead.
Below are the Rangers players rated in their win against Osijek.
Allan McGregor: 8
Was busier among the two custodians as he had to remain alert against the hosts’ series of attacks but used his experience well to make some crucial saves, clearances and timely outings. The Scotsman deservedly earned his third clean sheet in a row and is yet to concede in his second stint for the boyhood side.
James Tavernier: 7.5
His crosses, as always, troubled the opponents as the skipper assisted Morelos with a sublime cross that handed them a first-half lead against the run of play. Struggled at times to deal with dynamic Borna Barišić’s overlap runs, yet his balanced defensive as well as attacking display down the right flank deserves a mention.
Connor Goldson: 8
The summer signing from Brighton & Hove Albion continues his towering display in deep defensive line as he maintained concentration and composure to break down Osijek’s threats that were relentless in certain phases of the game. Also made some necessary clearances to make up for the mistakes made by his teammates.
Nikola Katic: 7
The Croatian mostly delivered a steady show despite some early scares and helped the Gers retain a clean sheet on his return to the homeland.
Jon Flanagan: 5.5
Was standout versus FK Shkupi but made some costly errors in the first half that created moments of discomfort at the back. The former Liverpool fullback rarely made overlap runs and was mostly confined to defensive duties throughout.
Lassana Coulibaly: 7.5
The Angers loanee was handed his debut and looked like someone who is combative, makes tackles, commits fouls and often goes for 50-50 challenges. He broke down many of the Croatians’ attacks in the middle of the park with his timely blocks and interceptions.
Ryan Jack: 7
Lost possession dangerously twice in the game but mostly retained a composure in the middle of the park. Did not make enough box-to-box runs due to the hosts’ mounting pressure but marshaled the backline with great intent and expertise.
Ovie Ejaria: 6.5
The Liverpool loanee looked impressive with his swift movements, link up play, sense of passing and build-ups. He, however, needs to work more on his decision making and must avoid losing possession dangerously in his own half that could have had cost his side late in the first half. Was replaced by Ross McCrorie late in the game to introduce more defensive work rate to defend the lead.
Ryan Kent: 7
Kent, another Liverpool loanee, made an instant impact with his great footwork and cut insides down the left wing. His exquisite effort earned the Gers a corner and the deadlock was broken from that resulting set-piece. Worked hard down the flank and played his part in tracking back to defend deep.
Jamie Murphy: 6
Played his part in Morelos’ goal but was largely isolated for the majority of the game except for some decent runs in and around the box. Was taken off midway through the second half to be replaced by dynamic Josh Windass.
Alfredo Morelos: 7
Gerrard was worried regarding the Colombian’s missed opportunities against FK Shkupi, but the young centre-forward restored his reputation with a poacher’s goal when he headed home from Tavernier’s cross early in the game. Was clever to win a few free-kicks and looked more purposeful after the break with his one-twos and tricky runs. Was replaced by Glenn Middleton in closing seconds.
Josh Windass: 5
Was brought in to offer his liveliness and attacking flair, but the Englishman was mostly disappointing since coming on as he failed to get involved into action.
Ross McCrorie: 6.5
Was brought in to protect the lead and did his part to offer defensive depth and resilience.
Glenn Middleton: NA
Played too little to warrant a rating.