Philippe Clement warned his Rangers players that Europa League knockout football is not yet assured despite a 2-1 win over Sparta Prague taking them in to second place in Group C.
In a thrilling first-half performances Brazilian striker Danilo got the breakthrough after 11 minutes before midfielder Todd Cantwell added a second in the 20th minute but the second half was not so convincing.
Sparta substitute Lukas Haraslin reduced the deficit in the 77th minute and although Danilo soon had the ball in the net again it was ruled out after VAR check for a foul and in the end the Light Blues were glad to hang on.
Real Betis have nine Group C points, Rangers have seven, Sparta Prague have four and Aris Limassol just three.
Rangers host Aris Limassol later in the month and can confirm qualification with a victory before concluding their campaign next month with a trip to Spain to face Real Betis.
However, Clement said: “If there is one thing I don’t want is that the players now think that we are qualified.
“We made a really important step forward that is true but we don’t have anything in our hands for the moment.
“We need to get our points against Aris or against Betis, we still have two games to go.
“It is focus and concentration to try to get three points out of every game and we know that football is a game that you don’t always get what you deserve. There can be circumstances that can go against you so we have to be at the top level every time.”
Clement is unbeaten in six games since taking over the Gers hot seat from Michael Beale – the only blip was a goalless draw against Sparta Prague away – and he claimed the first half was the best so far as he called for a complete 90-minute performance.
He said: “If you see the strength of the opponent, this is the best team we have played against until now, as we did in Prague (0-0).
“The first half was really good, I want to see that football for 90 minutes, that is the goal.
“We could not do that from the situation we were in a few weeks ago, we need more time for that, to get everyone at the top physical level to do the distances, intensity and high speeds with and without the ball.”
Sparta Prague boss Brian Priske, a former team-mate of Clement at Club Brugge, conceded that Rangers were the better side on the night.
He said: “Yes they were, we have to admit it. Over 90 minutes for sure, they were the better side.
“The first half they really punished us, they played well, created big chances and we struggled creating chances and defending as we normally do.”
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