Full Time: Rangers 2-0 FK Shkupi
Rangers kicked off the new era under Steven Gerrard with a 2-0 victory over FK Shkupi, in the first leg of their first-round qualifiers of the UEFA Europa League, at the Ibrox Stadium on Thursday night.
Summer signing Jamie Murphy gave the Light Blues the lead halfway through the first period with a composed left-footed finish, after being fed through by captain James Tavernier. The full-back then went on to score from the penalty spot very late in the game to make it 2-0 and give his team a solid advantage heading into the second leg.
And here’s how the Rangers stars fared in Gerrard’s first competitive game in charge.
Rangers Player Ratings
Allan McGregor – 6/10
The 36-year-old Scottish keeper could only watch as the visitors struck the woodwork early in the game. Had little to do in terms of saves, apart from clawing out a dangerous cross.
James Tavernier – 8/10
The club captain was one of the best players on the field as he offered a great outlet down the right-hand side, with his piercing forward runs and dangerous crosses. Got the assist for the opener before crucially converting the penalty late on to give his side a comfortable cushion heading into the second leg.
Connor Goldson – 7/10
Making his competitive debut for the Gers, the 25-year-old summer arrival was rock solid at the back. Cut an imposing presence and was a threat in the opposition box as well.
Nikola Katic – 7/10
The young Croatian did not look all that comfortable with the ball at his feet but was unbeatable in the air and hardly put a foot wrong on Thursday. Bodes well for the Gers.
Jon Flanagan – 7/10
Gerrard’s former Liverpool teammate showed great bite and tenacity at the back and offered a decent outlet on the overlap. Almost scored with a deflected effort.
Ross McCrorie – 7/10
Given the task of shielding his back four, the youngster had his task cut out and managed to get the job done, putting in some important challenges and blocks.
Daniel Candeias – 5.5/10
The Portuguese winger started in an unfamiliar deep-lying midfield role and began well. But he seemed uncomfortable and kept conceding possession regularly. Was taken off early in the second period.
Scott Arfield – 6/10
The Canadian international worked hard in the middle of the park, without really making a great impact on the proceedings. Almost managed to score on his first competitive appearance for the club.
Josh Windass – 6/10
Had a headed effort saved in the first period and then went on to miss narrowly from another header in the second period. A bit of a mixed bag for the former Accrington Stanley man.
Jamie Murphy – 8/10
Easily the Gers’ most creative player on the night. Caused the defence all sorts of problems each time he had the ball and opened the scoring after having scuffed an opportunity earlier in the game. Won the late penalty. Impressive.
Alfredo Morelos – 5.5/10
Last season’s top-scorer worked hard at the top but his hold-up play wasn’t all that great. Had a couple of decent chances in the first period but couldn’t make it count.
Ryan Jack – 6/10
On for Candeias in the 56th minute. Better fit than the Portuguese and helped settle things down.
Ovie Ejaria – 6/10
Replaced Arfield with around 20 minutes left, to make his debut for the Gers. Showed glimpses of his potential.
Glenn Middleton – N/A
Thrown in for the last ten minutes or so, the rookie attacker was a bright spark in his brief cameo.