Coldness under pressure can be a product of incalculable value. It certainly is worth more than West Bromwich Albion was willing to pay for James Tavernier.
Twenty-four hours after the Rangers captain was the subject of a rejected offer of £ 2 million in the Championship, he came to show his value again at a time that matters.
Another impeccable penalty conversion – his third already this season – proved to be a crucial moment in the setting up of a precious advantage in the first leg of Steven Gerrard's men in this draw in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. By doing so, the right-back capped an impressive personal exhibition and a greater hope of ending the curse that Maribor has had on Scottish opponents.
Alfredo Morelos gave Rangers a dream start at the Europa League match with a close-range attack
Gregor Bajde equalized with an excellent shot for a crucial offside goal for the Slovenian side
James Tavernier defeated the Rangers ahead from the penalty spot five minutes after the interval
Lassana Coulibaly scored a crucial third goal, although the ball seemed to hit her arm
Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor; Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Flanagan; Arfield, Ejaria (Murphy 78), Coulibaly; Candeias, Morelos (Sadiq 88), Kent (McCrorie 88)
Sub unused: Foderingham, Halliday, Kelly, Middleton
Goals: Morelos 5, Tavernier pen 50, Coulibaly 85
Reservations: Flanagan 20, Ejaria 70
Maribor (4-4-2): Handanovic; Klinar, Ivkovic, Suler, Viler; Bajde (Mesanovic 62), Vrhovec, Dervisevic, Pihler; Tavares (Vrsic 78), Zahovic
Unused Subs: Cretu, Hotic, Piric, Mlakar, Uskokovic
Objective: Bajde 40
Reservations: Ivkovic 50, Suler 85
Four times in the last eight years, the Slovenians have imposed themselves on European ties, with Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibernian falling on the sword.
The odds of a fifth consecutive victim began to falter when the sensational final of Mitja Viler nullified a first goal by Alfredo Morelos to give a resurgence to the half-time parity of Maribor.
The Rangers, however, responded strongly to Gerrard's interval instructions to produce an excellent second half. More aggressive throughout the field, they returned to the front when Morelos won the Tavernier kick.
From there, the Ibrox side looked at the team in command. A third late goal from Lassana Coulibaly doubled the lead before the second leg on Thursday.
What an opportunity they have now. There were more than enough quality marks from Darko Milanic's men here to promise a test test in the picturesque Slovenian city. The goal outside of Maribor will be an obvious source of belief.
However, the Rangers can hold a lot of confidence for themselves. Unbeaten in the first six games of Gerrard's reign, the Liverpool icon is building a team that looks tougher than any of them to call this home his home in recent years.
A place in the Europa League play-offs against the Russian team Ufa or Progres Niederkorn, which do not need a presentation for Ibrox fans, would be an important preparation post for the new Gerrard regime.
Scott Arfield won the ball 25 yards from Maribor's goal to prepare an attack for Morelos to score a goal
Morelos joined after five minutes when Ryan Kent's effort was saved by the Maribor goalkeeper
The Rangers had been occupied in other ways before the start. The transfer deadline at 5 p.m. in England it caused expenses while the renewal of Gerrard's team continued.
Declan John, who had slipped through the entire hierarchy, was sold to Swansea City in an agreement worth up to £ 800,000. Then, Wigan overcame Ipswich Town's long-standing interest in Josh Windass to tie a £ 2.5 million transfer of the 24-year-old, a prolific scorer last season. His departure will accelerate Gerrard's plans to add another option forward.
However, Tavernier was still present to lead the Ibrox team, and the club's media team could be counted among those who were relieved by that position. They had given a place of honor on the front of the match program the night before to an image of Tavernier looking lovingly at his captain's bracelet.
Five minutes later and the focus of admiration from the right-back had changed his attacking colleagues. A perfect start for the Rangers was delivered thanks to an excellent example of the high-energy, high-pressure mentality that Gerrard is determined to inculcate.
However, Viler flew past Allan McGregor from the right side of the box to make it 1-1.
Minutes before Morelos had scored an open goal after an error by the goalkeeper, but was ruled out
Scott Arfield led the hunt. Driving forward from midfield to chase Marko Suler, he evicted the Maribor midfielder and fed Ryan Kent inside the penalty area.
Cutting off his right foot, the Liverpool loan was curved in a test effort that had Jasmin Handanovic fully stretched to repel him.
It is not that the goalkeeper has obtained any reward for his athleticism. With Morelos faster outside the park than any of his defenders, Handanovic looked up to see the Colombian hit from close range and sent a burst of noise through Ibrox.
Morelos milked his moment. A long celebration in front of the Broomloan Road booth perhaps spoke of the persistent frustration of Aberdeen's red card last Sunday, which an SFA panel dropped to a reservation earlier this week.
Ryan Jack was another who had not seen the 90 minutes in Pittodrie. The blow on the head that held there did not mean a place for a midfielder who had started the season in an outstanding way.
Lassana Coulibaly provided great aggression against the four defenders, but Jack's sense of positioning and control remained a significant loss. The Rangers seemed more and more stretched when Maribor recovered from the impact of her first setback.
In the 50th minute, Morelos was knocked down by Maribor's Sasa Ivkovic and he was awarded a penalty
Rangers captain, Tavernier, placed the ball high to the right of the goalkeeper to put his side back
Aleks Pihler's swift strike that forced Allan McGregor to find a corner was the first clear sign of growing confidence. The Ibrox veteran followed up with an even better save to deny Amir Derisevic in the 21st minute, and Tavernier took the challenge of blocking Luka Zahovic's follow-up.
There was a pardon when Sasa Ivkovic jumped and was lost before a tempting delivery of Ivkovic, but the direction of the traffic was now clear. It took another good intervention from Tavernier, this time on Gregor Badje, to prevent the push of Denis Klinar behind Jon Flanagan and the subsequent crossing to develop.
Even then, despite all that Slovenian threat, half still pivoted on one minute of Rangers waste.
Daniel Candeias initially reacted magnificently to take advantage of a wayward pass since Handanovic suffered a malfunction of the radar. The Portuguese winger could have easily hit the goal, but instead he played Morelos, who did not retire enough from an offside position. His joy in getting into an empty net was quickly reduced by the flag of the assistant referee.
Maribor was leveled a minute later, and this time there was nothing McGregor could do about it. A wide cross field pass from Derisevic found Viler sneaking into the left inner channel, from where an angled and fallen end exploded at the far corner of the net.
A stunned silenced Ibrox, followed by a sigh of relief when Derisevic threw a strike 20 yards below the goal before the break.
Coulibaly threw his first goal for the Rangers to give them a crucial cushion for the next game
The manager of the Rangers, Steven Gerrard, starts the instructions of the Ibrox line after the first goal
The Rangers needed to reassert some control. Gerrard's half-time words had resulted in a flying start for the second half against Osijek last week, and it was the same once again. The Ibrox manager clearly receives the correct messages.
Coulibaly pointed to the charge with a hit from the edge of the area that Handanovic flipped over the top. The Rangers stood and won their reward when Connor Goldson threw a search pass in the direction of Morelos.
The striker threw himself into the area, cutting the ball between Ivkovic's legs before being knocked down by the defender's challenge. The Israeli referee Roi Reinshreiber pointed to the place and Tavernier approached to send Handanovic calmly.
Now the Rangers fans had found their voice again. Maribor was beginning to be seriously stressed as Tavernier almost doubled his account with a deviated forward that Handanovic rejected.
Coulibaly, however, would tie in a minute 86 crossed substitute Jamie Murphy to spread the delirium around Ibrox.
Luka Zahovic of Maribor and Lassana Coulibaly of Rangers compete for the ball in the first half
Kent of the Rangers competes with Denis Klinar of Maribor in an equalized opening period