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Steven Gerrard relishing ‘massive’ Sparta Prague clash after Brondby draw

Denmark Soccer Europa League
(Image credit: Martin Sylvest)

Steven Gerrard is pleased Rangers’ Europa League hopes are still in their own hands following a 1-1 draw with Brondby.

After losing 2-0 at home to Lyon and 1-0 away to Sparta Prague in their opening two Group A fixtures, the Light Blues beat the Danish side 2-0 at Ibrox last month.

But they had to come from behind to snatch a point in the reverse fixture on Thursday night.

With seconds remaining of the first half centre-back Leon Balogun headed into his own net following a corner.

Gerrard made a triple substitution in the 55th minute with Kemar Roofe, fit-again Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi coming on and the latter two combined in the 77th minute for the Romania international to fire in the equaliser.

Rangers remain in third place in the group on four points, the same tally as Sparta Prague, but could win the head-to-head with the Czech outfit at Ibrox later this month before taking on already-qualified Lyon in the final game.

Gerrard said: “After the start we made, having lost two games, to have the opportunity to win by two clear goals at Ibrox and qualify is probably a decent position to be in.

“But we are going to need a better level of performance certainly from the first half point of view if we are going to achieve that.

“But it is there for us, Ibrox, full house, massive game.

“I don’t think we have really got going in terms of the Europa League so far, so hopefully we can keep everyone fit, healthy, get people up to speed with more fitness and we can put a real strong side out who can give us a good chance of going on to achieve that.

“I think there was more than a point there for us.

“Obviously when you go a goal behind and take something from the game it is a positive I suppose, but having competed against that opposition I thought they were there for the taking and the maximum points.

“I thought we under-performed tonight, certainly in the first half. There was massive improvement when I made the substitutions.”

Gerrard was pleased to see the return of Kent following his recovery from a hamstring injury which has kept him out since the defeat by Lyon in September.

The Gers boss will now consider changing his attackers for the cinch Premiership game against Ross County at Ibrox on Sunday.

He said: “Maybe I got the front three wrong today or the front three didn’t bring to the game what I wanted or expected from them, probably two sides of it.

“But once we got the right players on the pitch with quality in the right areas, I thought we passed through them, we looked more dangerous and, if any team was going to go on and win, it was us.

“But we left it too late by starting at half-time.

“It was certainly a fantastic goal. I thought Ianis and Ryan Kent were superb in the time they were on the pitch.

“It is great to have Ryan back, he will give everyone a boost, not just inside the dressing room, I think the supporters too.

“We know when he is at it and he is in that form he is so hard to stop and obviously I might need to look at a different front three come the weekend.”