Scottish giants Rangers showed their class against amateur Gibraltarian side St Joseph’s in the Europa League second qualifying round.
Steven Gerrard’s charges turned on the style in the second period to set up an easy return game at Ibrox.
To be fair, St Joseph’s took the game to the second-best team in Scotland, fighting for every ball in midfield.
But soon Rangers were swamping the St Joseph’s half, as wave after wave sought the first goal of the game, driven by nearly 1,000 Rangers fans.
The onslaught continued unabated, although on the counter-attacks the locals threatened with occasional pot-shots.
Manager Steven Gerrard must have given the players a good talking to at half-time because they came out of the tunnel determined to get a result. Whatever he said worked.
First, Sheyi Ojo, a loan signing from Liverpool in the summer, almost got the opener from a free-kick.
Then, fast attacking movement through the middle created the space for midfielder Ryan Jack to place the ball into the bottom corner for Rangers’ first.
Ojo got the second for Rangers on 56 minutes after freeing himself from his marker and curling the ball past the reach of St Joseph’s keeper Mateo.
At two-nil down the Gibraltarian outfit had little to offer in response and Rangers continued their domination.
Gerrard’s side moved three up when a curling Sheyi Ojo free-kick was pushed out for Connor Goldson to tap in.
Alfredo Morelos got the fourth as he bundled the ball across the line from close range with the help of the crossbar.
It ended up four-nil and with the home leg to come at Ibrox, Rangers were content with a professional performance.
St Joseph’s manager Raul Procopio spoke to The Olive Press about holding back the tide for 50 minutes.
“Rangers are clearly a different level to us but at least in the first half we competed well and tested their back line,” Procopio told The Olive Press.
“Despite the final result we are very happy of this squad and what we have done on the day.”
He promised fans he would ‘go out to win’ in the return leg in Scotland.
Manager Steven Gerrard, a Liverpool legend in his time, was pleased with the performance in what he said was ‘a potential banana skin’.
“When two or three chances are missed we got slightly concerned,” said Steven Gerrard. “But I always have confidence that if we don’t lose our organisation the breakthrough will come.”
He complemented Sheyi Ojo who he said was ‘outstanding throughout’ who gave his team ‘pace and power down the right side’.
“He knows he needs to make this work,” he said of the Liverpool loanee. “He’s strong and fast and the fans are loving him.”
Another Liverpool player who was in form on loan last season was Ryan Kent but Gerrard told the Olive Press his club had first dibs on him.
“He is three or four days into preseason with Liverpool,” the Rangers manager told The Olive Press. “Jurgen [Klopp] is going to take a look at him and I am sure he will have opportunities as a Liverpool player.”
With Xerdan Shaqiri injured for a few months, it gives Ryan Kent the possibility of breaking into the first team at Liverpool.
The second leg of the clash will take place on July 18 at Ibrox, Glasgow.
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