Michael Beale admitted his Rangers team were slow to start and not at their best as they lost 2-1 to Celtic in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden.
Kyogo Furuhashi scored for Celtic just before half time and added a second goal just after the hour mark, putting the holders in control of the final at Hampden. Alfredo Morelos pulled a goal back for Rangers but an equaliser never materialised and Beale suffered the first defeat of his time in charge.
The Rangers manager congratulated Celtic on their victory and conceded that his team fell short when it mattered.
“We started the game really poorly,” Beale said. “We were always in the game but we never played with a rhythm that we wanted to or can do in the first half.
“There’s no complaints with the result. At the start of the second half we improved and had a big moment when Ryan (Kent) hits the post and Fashion (Sakala) should do better with the rebound.
“If we score in that moment then it might be a momentum change but we find ourselves 2-0 down. We score and showed a lot of character and resilience to push the game but I was expecting more from myself and the team so it’s disappointing.”
The manager, who returned to Ibrox in December, says the team is still some distance away from where he wants it.
“Today I’ve learned as much as in any of the games,” Beale said. “If anything I’ve learned more.
“It’s something me and my staff will reflect on. I think it’s clear that where I want to be, and where everyone wants to be, we’re a little bit short of it right now. Ultimately that’s why I took the job.
“We’ve done well, we’ve been on a run and it’s our first defeat in 17 as a club. But it’s in the one game that we must win so it’s disappointing.
“We don’t want to be defined by it so it’s what we do next which is important.
“We still need to recruit and we need to work out one or two players’ futures but I don’t want to go overboard.
“We played against a very, very good opponent today and I thought they were very good in the game.
“It was partly us not performing at the level we would like but Celtic were good as well so fair dues on that.”
Beale surprised some people with his initial team selection, dropping new signings Nicolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell to the bench and then seeing his midfield come up second best for the first hour of the game but he said that match fitness played a major part in that decision.
Having chosen to go with Malik Tillman, Glen Kamara and John Lundstram, he had hoped to get a similar performance to the 2-2 draw with Celtic in January.
“That same team played ever so well in the Old Firm at New Year, it played the best performance since I have come back, against Hearts,” he said.
“You have got two players come into the club and have played two and a half games each against opponents where you have got the ball. There was a little bit more we had to do today defensively and also match legs.”
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