‘I just think overall it’s very fitting’: Steven Gerrard hails Rangers victory over Feyenoord as perfect tribute to honour memory of Fernando Ricksen
- Rangers overcame Feyenoord 1-0 courtesy of sublime Sheyi Ojo goal
- Scottish side have had emotional week following Fernando Ricksen’s death
- Steven Gerrard was delighted that his side put on a performance to be proud of
Steven Gerrard insists Rangers sunk Feyenoord with a performance to honour the memory of Fernando Ricksen.
The Ibrox side recovered from an early James Tavernier penalty miss to secure an opening night Europa League victory through a stunning first half strike from Sheyi Ojo.
Relieved to end an emotionally charged night with a fitting tribute to a former Ibrox captain after Ricksen lost his six year battle with motor neurone disease on Wednesday, however, the Rangers boss said: ‘I think we gave the supporters a performance to be proud of.
Steven Gerrard was proud of the performance his players delivered in the 1-0 victory
‘It’s been an emotional 24 hours for everyone connected with the club, which put more pressure on the players.
‘Everybody was looking for that performance for Fernando’s young family to be proud of.
‘And thankfully we got the win and I thought my players were outstanding, especially in the first-half when we carried the game plan out very well.
‘The idea was to play with energy and really press on the front foot and be aggressive by taking Feyenoord to a place they’re maybe not used to going.
‘I thought that worked very well until half-time and I was slightly disappointed not to go in at the break slightly further in front. They improved in the second half and kept the ball a lot better. When we won it back we kept giving it back to them so we didn’t get much chance to breathe.
‘But I think over the course of the 90 minutes no-one can take the three points away from us. I just think overall it’s very fitting.’ A rare spot kick miss from Tavernier was followed by Scott Arfield smashing a first half shot against the crossbar. Despite withstanding some late pressure, however, Gerrard believes the aggressive intensity of his side deserved to be rewarded.
The Rangers boss thought the display was a fitting tribute to Fernando Ricksen
‘If we’re taking something from the game we need to learn from it’s trying to take our half chances because I thought we created those all night long.
‘Obviously the penalty was a big moment.
‘These things happen. James has scored big penalties for this team before and provided big moments for the team.
‘I’ve just said to him ‘you can’t let a penalty miss affect you, especially if you miss it early on.’ ‘There are so many important moments left to play and he has played his part in a fantastic clean sheet against a good team, that’s how I’ll judge him.
‘I won’t judge him on the penalty miss.
‘Of course it would have helped the team and given us a bit more of a margin.
‘But we missed another dozen half chances, so we can’t just look to the penalty miss.
‘Penalties are tough, he has stood up there and took them in key moments.
‘There will be no finger pointing, i’m delighted with the way James is at the moment.’ Pleased with the matchwinning contribution of Sheyi Ojo the Rangers boss believes the on-loan winger could have done more.
‘Should have scored two,’ he grinned, ‘that’s what I will be saying to him.
‘Listen, this is Shey. He provides big moments at important times, he’s a goalscorer.
‘He is not going to be this polished player where everthing is perfect. He is going to make mistakes along the way.
Gerrard quipped that Ojo should have added another to his tally despite scoring the winner
‘He is still young, still learning the game – but the reason I brought Sheyi in was to make a difference in the final third.’ Feyenoord boss Jaap Stam admitted his side struggled to get to grips with the home side until the second half saying: ‘It was an intense game. Rangers used their physique and pace up front.
‘We couldn’t control the game and we were too weak in terms of keeping the ball and using our bodies in the battles.
‘At moments we had the ball we didn’t do enough with it.
‘Everybody knows that in this line of football you don’t get a lot of opportunities and you need to make the most of them when they come.’