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Giovanni Van Bronckhorst enjoys Ibrox return after advancing in Europa League

Rangers v Sparta Prague – UEFA Europa League – Group A – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst described a “truly special” return to Ibrox as he led the team into the Europa League knockout stages in his first match as Rangers manager.

An Alfredo Morelos double earned a 2-0 victory over Sparta Prague and sealed second spot behind Lyon in Group A.

Van Bronckhorst was back at Ibrox more than 20 years after leaving for Arsenal as a player and his players ensured it was memorable in more ways than one.

“It was incredible,” he said. “For me it is very special to be back at the club as manager.

“I have wonderful memories, wonderful European nights, from my time here as a player.

“Going out for the first time as manager was something special for me.

“Of course, you want to want to win. That was the most important thing. To win by a margin of two, because then we were through.

“It was truly really special and I enjoyed every moment of it. It’s always special to have your first game at Ibrox as manager and I was really happy we could give the fans the game we did.”

The result was a major lift for the Rangers fans four days after they suffered a Premier Sports Cup semi-final defeat against Hibernian with the Dutchman consigned to a watching brief in the Hampden stands.

Rangers should have been more than two ahead before Sparta came into the game as an attacking force in the final 20 minutes with Allan McGregor’s spectacular double stop securing progress late on.

“It hasn’t been easy for the team to come back from a loss last Sunday with only two training sessions to prepare for the game,” said Van Bronckhorst, who ditched Steven Gerrard’s 4-3-3 system to employ two wide midfielders and an attacking midfielder behind Morelos.

“I made some changes in the system, the way we play when we have the ball and the way we press.

“I put a lot of effort in the last days in showing my players how they had to play with training sessions, with meetings, with images. I think they handled it really well and they executed my game plan really good. I am really pleased with the way they worked.

“They put the energy in the training sessions and you saw the energy from the first minute. I think that is the way we have to play every game. We have to give this energy to create chances.”