Despite the match ending in a 1-1 draw, there was no doubt Rangers had their best 90 minutes under Steven Gerrard so far against Osijek at Ibrox. With plenty of chances created and some strong defending, the team were all excellent. Here’s my opinion on how each player rated on the night.
ALLAN McGREGOR – 8
McGregor made a few great saves in the first half. One double save in particular from Henty and Bockaj was very impressive. He was unlucky to be beaten by the deflected shot late in the game. His distribution was excellent, as was his decision making. With his experience and leadership, he helped the team see out the match, and further demonstrated why he’ll be vital this season.
JAMES TAVERNIER – 8
Tavernier was strong defensively, composed on the ball, and led the team well. He didn’t get in as many crosses as you’d expect, but neither was he ever really exposed in the defensive sense. Good link up play with Candeias as always led to some nice play out wide. Those two combined to provide a good chance for Tavernier with his shot just wide in the second half.
CONNOR GOLDSON – 8
Yet again, Goldson was solid. Read the game very well, won loads of headers, and passed out from defence excellently. His positioning meant that other players could attack the ball or press and he would be there to cover. Knew when to take a touch and try a pass, or when to just make a clearance and get the team out. Another great game to add to the excitement surrounding his signing.
NIKOLA KATIC – 8
Katic had probably his best game so far in this match. Won just about every header, where sometimes you worry he can be easily muscled out of challenges. His goal was a smart finish, and he was a constant threat at set pieces. Showing good recovery pace throughout, any time Osijek tried to play down the channel, he was first to the ball. A very strong performance.
JON FLANAGAN – 7
Flanagan receives a 7 only because he had a few loose moments and didn’t get forward too often. For the most part, he was pretty good defensively. He does enjoy trying to win the ball instead of standing a player up, so he was turned a few times when that didn’t work out. His booking was very unfortunate.
LASSANA COULIBALY – 7
Coulibaly covered just about all of the pitch throughout the game. His energy and pressing was excellent, but some of his passing in the first half was very loose. Grew into the game as it progressed, and was certainly vital in the way Rangers looked to play.
RYAN JACK – 9
When Rangers were under pressure for spells in the first half, Ryan Jack was outstanding. He read the game well, won the ball in various areas of the pitch, and kept possession even under pressure. His passing forward was also effective, creating good chances for Morelos and Candeias. In the second half, with Rangers controlling the game, he was the main reason the ball was moved quickly. When Gerrard praised him after the match, every word was fully deserved.
OVIE EJARIA – 8
Ejaria is the sort of player who will split the support in terms of opinion. He’s great on the ball, composed, and links up play excellently. As you’d expect from a 20 year old midfielder, he has some loose moments. Those are more than made up for by the way he finds players with smart passes. A few through balls were unlucky not to lead to more, and one pass was too heavy for Morelos which could have led to a goal. Ejaria pressed the game intelligently, and looks like a very good signing so far.
DANIEL CANDEIAS – 8
Everyone knew the main threat for Osijek would come from left back Barisic. Daniel Candeias pretty much nullified him. His pressing, counter attack threat and workrate was brilliant. Unlucky not to set up good chances with some crosses, due to either last-ditch defending or poor finishing. Candeias more than fulfilled the job asked of him on the night.
ALFREDO MORELOS – 8
Morelos couldn’t really get the clear cut chance his play deserved. As often happens, that didn’t stop him from being a huge influence on the match. He bullied the Osijek defenders throughout with his strength, and linked up very well with his teammates. Using his strength and vision, he was able to create chances for others. A constant outlet, who won fouls and set pieces high up the pitch. If he’d scored, it would have been a perfect performance.
RYAN KENT – 7
Kent worked very hard, and was unlucky with a few moments in an attacking sense. He was a little wasteful in possession, but adds something different with his style of play. His delivery at corners was excellent, and should have led to at least one goal. Given he’s still learning about his teammates, he’s made a good start.
SCOTT ARFIELD – 4
Arfield replaced Coulibaly, and added a lot of energy and quality when he came on. He drove at the Osijek defence more than once, and was unlucky not to score.
JOSH WINDASS – 3
Windass replaced Candeias, and almost scored in injury time. He also had a few nice passes under pressure to help the team see out the tie.
Andy Halliday also came on, but only played around 2 minutes overall.
How did you rate the players? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.