Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst expressed his pride in his players as they reached the last eight of the Europa League.
The Scottish champions lost 2-1 to Red Star in Belgrade in the second leg of their last 16 tie but were 4-2 aggregate winners after an impressive victory at Ibrox last week.
That puts Rangers in Friday’s quarter final draw alongside some big names and Van Bronckhorst feels it’s well deserved.
Mirko Ivanovic had given Red Star the lead but Ryan Kent responded with an equaliser in the second half before El Fardou Ben’s late penalty gave the hosts an injury-time goal. The Rangers boss said that it had been another tough game but the team had come through the test with the outcome they wanted.
“I’m very, very proud,” he said. “Of course we wanted to be in the next round, the quarter final, but we knew we would be playing a hard game, which it was.
“I think we started the game really well but we conceded the first goal. You saw the belief for Red Star and also in the stadium, they were preparing for a big night for them.
“So we had to do a little bit damage control in the first half, which we did. And in the second half, I think we were much better organized defensively.
“I think our goal made their belief weaker. And after that, we controlled the game and we were defensively quite compact apart the penalty in the end.
“But overall, over the two games, you know, we’re more than happy to be in the quarter finals and to be to be one of the last eight teams left in this competition.”
The last time a Scottish side reached the quarter-finals of a European competition was in 2008 when Rangers were on their way to the UEFA Cup final and Van Bronckhorst admitted it was a moment to savour.
“I mean it’s not a lot of times you qualify for the last eight,” he said. “For me as a coach is the first and for Rangers it’s been I think 14 years and of course they reached the final in that year.
“So it’s a very proud moment. The last eight, I think if you see other teams already qualified, you know it’s strong teams but we just have to enjoy the next opponent and make sure we are ready and prepared to maybe even go a stage further.”
The manager also had words of praise for goalkeeper Allan McGregor. The 40-year-old produced another vintage performance, denying Red Star on several occasions and having a major say in the outcome of the tie.
“He’s very important,” Van Broncjhorst said: “I think he’s been amazing over the two games, also in the home game he saved of course the penalty, but also had some crucial saves as well.
“Today was the same, at the moments you need him to be there, he was there. So, of course, he’s a player with a lot of experience and you can see that in his moments, especially in these environments.
“He kept his calmness and at crucial times he was there so I’m happy for Allan
“But, you know, I think the team played really well with a lot of character. To come to this stadium with the atmosphere that’s here, I think it’s a very good achievement for us to go through.
“It’s a proud moment for all of us.”