A 3-1 win at Ibrox had put Rangers in the driving seat ahead of the Europa League third qualifying round return leg fixture against NK Maribor. Custodian Allan McGregor made match-winning saves today, including a late spot-kick and guided the Gers to secure a playoff outing – the final hurdle before making it to the group stages of the Europa League.
Below are the Rangers players rated in their scoreless draw against NK Maribor.
Allan McGregor: 10
The veteran Scotsman continued to impress as he made some decisive stops, particularly after the break. He kept out Dervišević’s goal-bound free-kick in the first half with a diving effort, but his best save, however, came in the second half when he pulled off a stunning reflex stop from point-blank range to deny Marcos Tavares. He came to the rescue once more in the closing seconds by saving Tavares’ spot-kick with his legs and earned a well deserved clean sheet.
James Tavernier: 8
The skipper, usually known for his overlapping runs, confined himself mostly in defensive duties to deal with the relentless pressure created by the hosts and led his side to deliver a hard and headstrong performance under challenging conditions.
Connor Goldson: 8.5
Shrewd business by Steven Gerrard as the former Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back has brought in a much-needed defensive resilience that lacked in the backline ever since their return to Premiership football. The Englishman delivered yet another towering performance with crucial blocks, interceptions, tackles as well as clearances and also dealt well with the physicality of veteran Tavares inside the box.
Nikola Katic: 8
The little-known Croatian has formed an exciting partnership with Goldson in the heart of Gers defence. He showed enough commitment tonight to defend the first leg lead with his great sense of positioning and composed defensive work.
Andy Halliday: 7
Suspension of Jon Flanagan and the ineligibility of Borna Barisic forced Gerrard to deploy Andy Halliday in a makeshift left-back role. The Scotsman had a tough time against persistent crossing, pressing and passing game but did a fair job overall while defending deep.
Ryan Jack: 8.5
Returned after recovering from a concussion and delivered a stellar display in a deep-lying role. He marshalled the defence well, made decisive clearances, left no space for the likes of Zahovic and Hotic to have free runs in and around the box. Jack also carried the ball out of the deep zone to form some counter attacks.
Ovie Ejaria: 6
The Liverpool loanee still needs to work on his decision making. His unnecessary holding of the ball and loss of possession was allowing Maribor to press hard and win the ball back. Was replaced by Ryan Kent, the other loan recruit from the Reds, midway in the second half.
Scott Arfield: 7.5
The versatile Canadian held the ball well and dragged his opponents towards him to create space for fellow mates to run forward. Was distributing with perfection on the flanks and also kept on helping the defence to protect his team’s goal.
Daniel Candeias: 7
Covered a lot of space down the right flank, worked tirelessly to track back and clear the danger and also offered his presence high up the pitch while making occasional movements forward.
Jamie Murphy: 7
Covered Halliday down the left when the fullback was in trouble and used his experience well to make intelligent forward runs. Was replaced by Ross McCrorie late in the game.
Alfredo Morelos: 6.5
Skied his effort high over the bar late in the game. Had a few half chances, but did well to use his physicality and tricky footwork to win fouls and frustrate the hosts.
Ryan Kent: 6
Was introduced to take the pressure off his teammates as he utilised his pace, power and dribbling traits. The youngster looked purposeful despite having few numbers of touches.
Ross McCrorie: 6
Strengthened the midfield, helped his defence to maintain their shape and composure in final minutes of the match.