Gerrard urges Rangers to make Benfica clash ‘a big night’

Rangers could reach the last 32 of the Europa League if results go their way.

Gerrard urges Rangers to make Benfica clash ‘a big night’ SNS Group

Steven Gerrard has urged his Rangers team to make Thursday’s Europa League clash with Benfica “pivotal”.

Rangers will qualify for the last 32 with two games to spare if they win and Lech Poznan fail to beat Standard Liege in Belgium.

The Light Blues showed they had the beating of the Portuguese team when they went 3-1 ahead in Lisbon before conceding two late goals.

And Gerrard has encouraged his in-form team to make home advantage count at Ibrox.

“We want Thursday to be pivotal,” he said. “We want it to be a big night.

“It’s a shame we haven’t got the crowd here to help us like they have before so we have to motivate ourselves, come out and try and get qualification done as quickly as possible.

“With three games to go we have given ourselves a fantastic platform, but we are playing against a really good team with top players.

“But we are going to go foot to the floor on Thursday and give it everything we can to try and get the job done, because maybe it can help us further down the line domestically.

“If it does happen, it will certainly help us from a domestic point of view in terms of looking after people. But we certainly want to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Gerrard was able to give players a rest on Sunday after completing a 4-0 rout of Aberdeen inside 53 minutes, although the chances continued to flow.

“That’s the pleasing thing for me, that the level and the understanding stays really high,” he said.

“You see the substitutes we brought on against Aberdeen and how eager they were to score.

“You can see JD’s (Jermain Defoe) hunger and movement, Ianis (Hagi) had a chance, Cedric (Itten) had a couple of a chances.

“I still had (Brandon) Barker there and could have used him because he scored in the last game. We have certainly got the options and I am in a fantastic place at the moment in that respect.

“But the key is – can we keep them healthy and keep the group in a good place for the rest of the season? If we do, we’ll continue to give teams a lot of problems.”

One player who missed out against Aberdeen was South Africa midfielder Bongani Zungu.

“He has got a knock on his knee that we are assessing and checking out at the moment,” Gerrard said.

“We don’t think it is big so you could see him on Thursday hopefully.

“But don’t be surprised if he takes a little bit longer. But it is not a big problem, it is only days rather than weeks or months.”

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