Alfredo Morelos delivered the decisive blow as Rangers earned a precious away victory against NK Osijek.
The striker scored with a deft header to secure a win for Steven Gerrard’s side in the Europa League second qualifying round first leg in Croatia.
An industrious display earned Rangers a third clean sheet in three competitive games under their new manager.
Should the Ibrox side prevail on Thursday, either Maribor or Georgian outfit Chikhura Sachkhere lie in wait.
Those sides are tied at 0-0 after the first leg.
Encouraging signs in attack
Gerrard’s decision to name debutant Ryan Kent in the starting line-up just days after he joined the club on loan from Liverpool was an inspired one.
The 21-year-old was lively and creative from the off, belying the lack of time he had had to develop an understanding with his new team-mates.
He might have scored the opening goal as he jinked infield off the left flank, but his effort was deflected wide.
Nonetheless, from the resultant short corner Rangers did move in front. Kent and Jamie Murphy combined cleverly, the ball was shuttled back to James Tavernier and the captain’s cross was flicked past goalkeeper Marko Malenica from close range by Morelos.
The striker was another bright performer for Rangers. Aside from the goal, his touch was good and his work-rate was greatly improved from the end of last season. Gerrard will have demanded nothing less.
Gerrard’s influence bolsters Rangers
Gerrard, in rebuilding this Rangers team, focused initially on assembling a solid defence and they withstood heavy pressure at times to emerge with a third consecutive clean sheet.
In part, that was a result of poor finishing by the home side, with Mirko Maric the chief culprit.
Twice inside the opening 13 minutes he failed to hit the target, firstly hitting a dipping shot just over and then, criminally, shooting wide from a wonderful Borna Barisic cross.
Connor Goldson looks like the commanding centre-half Rangers have been crying out for over the past few years.
He was their most impressive performer at the back, not least when he blocked a Petar Bockaj shot on the line before also getting in the way of the rebound from Alen Grgic.
Ultimately, though, Allan McGregor had relatively little to do in preserving the clean sheet.
Rangers managed the game well and Gerrard, who prowled the edge of his technical area throughout, has already shown a tactical astuteness that eluded his predecessors.
With their first away win in Europe since defeating Sporting Lisbon on their way to the Uefa Cup final in 2008, Rangers have earned a great chance of reaching the third qualifying round.
- 17SorsaSubstituted forBockajat 45’minutes
- 22PusicBooked at 61minsSubstituted forHajradinovicat 80’minutes
- 45HentyBooked at 87mins
- 5MiocSubstituted forLyopaat 62’minutesBooked at 90mins
- 21SkoricBooked at 59mins
- 10EjariaSubstituted forMcCrorieat 78’minutes
- 7MurphySubstituted forWindassat 68’minutes
- 15FlanaganBooked at 66mins
- 20MorelosSubstituted forMiddletonat 90+4’minutes
Referee: Pawel Gil
Source: BBC Sports