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Steven Gerrard challenges Rangers to reach Europa League quarter-finals

Dundee United v Rangers’ – Scottish Premiership – Tannadice Park
(Image credit: Alan Harvey)

Steven Gerrard has set Rangers a target of reaching the Europa League quarter-finals.

The Ibrox boss led his team all the way to the last 16 last term before seeing their run halted by German giants Bayer Leverkusen.

But Gerrard has now challenged his team to go one step further this season.

The Light Blues discovered on Monday that they will face Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp in the last 32 after pipping Benfica to win their group.

Gerrard – addressing the club’s virtual AGM – said: “I think our key achievements so far have certainly been our runs in Europe. Getting to the group stages in season one, we built on that in the second year, going to the last 16 which was a fantastic achievement and big progress for the team.

“That’s brought a lot of confidence and belief. Hopefully we can go one better this season.

“There are big games coming thick and fast but it’s a real exciting time in terms of Europe.”

Gers have yet to taste defeat this term having built up a 13-point lead at the top of the Premiership and secured a place in Wednesday night’s Betfred Cup quarter-final at St Mirren.

A first major trophy since 2011 finally feels within reach for the club but Gerrard insists that has only been made possible due to the hard work he put in along with sporting director Ross Wilson during lockdown.

Before Covid struck, it appeared Gerrard was having second thoughts about whether Rangers could be restored to their former glories having seen Celtic pinch victory in the Betfred Cup final before pulling away to claim a ninth straight title after a his side collapsed after the winter break.

But he has no doubt about the capabilities of his rampant team now.

“It was a very strange finish to the season due to the Covid-19 situation,” Gerrard told shareholders. “There was a lot of frustrations at the time but it was also a time to reflect and analyse where we were as a group.

“There was a lot of hard work which went in during that time to think about answers and areas where we could could improve to try to get the club back to where it belongs as quick as we can.

“I was very grateful to sign a new deal here until 2024 and the idea is to continue to move the club forward and try to build something special for the team.

“This club comes with an expectation to deliver trophies and we feel that we are putting the right things in place to try to get closer towards that.

“I think reaching the first cup final since 2016 was progress – but it was a set-back not delivering that first trophy.

“But the experience, we believe, will help us moving forward to deliver the first trophy which will be the catalyst to build on that and get more.

“We’ve made a really strong start to this season but there’s still a lot of work to do.

“The players have done exceptionally well. There’s an inner belief about them. We’re obviously winning a lot of games, keeping clean sheets.

“But we realise this is not the time to get too carried away. There’s a lot of hard work to do and hurdles to get over.

“But we want to do everything we can and keep pushing this team as hard as we can to bring success as quick as we can.”