Jack Butland hopes Rabbi Matondo’s terrific Champions League play-off goal against PSV Eindhoven is “a sign of things to come” from the Rangers winger.
The 22-year-old Wales international has been a bit-part player at the Govan club since signing from Schalke in July, 2022.
However, early-season signs of a step-up in impact have been encouraging, none more so than when he came off the bench at Ibrox on Tuesday night with the first leg tied at 1-1, after a strike by Ibrahim Sangare had cancelled out a late first-half goal from Gers attacker Abdallah Sima.
Light Blues midfielder Todd Cantwell began the move which ended with Matondo, drafted into the European squad at the expense of Ianis Hagi, steering in a Cyriel Dessers pass for his first Rangers goal, and although PSV captain Luuk de Jong levelled with a header four minutes later, there is all to play for in the second leg in the Netherlands next Wednesday night.
Goalkeeper Butland, one of nine summer signings by Michael Beale when he was recruited from Crystal Palace, said: “I’ve only known Rabbi this season.
“He’s a hell of a character around the place. He’s full of energy – you really wish he would be quiet sometimes, he’s that sort of character but he brings a lot of energy to the building.
“I’m sure it’s been tough for him, he’s been waiting a long time for his first goal.
“He trains well, he works hard. As I said he’s a great guy around the group and in a few games already this season he’s come on and made some huge impacts for us and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. So really pleased for him.
“He was top drawer, a great goal, a great team goal on the break there and finished well by him. The lads are all buzzing for him.”
Butland, capped nine times for England, was impressed by a passionate and pulsating European night at Ibrox and he hopes Rangers finish the tie off in the second leg.
The 30-year-old said: “It was pretty special, some atmosphere. Perhaps a little bit disappointed with the result at the end but a really good performance, good value for it and it gives us something to go to Eindhoven with next week and get the job done.
“We’ve played against a top side and we have put ourselves in a really good position for next week.
“It’s a two-legged tie. A positive night, really enjoyed it and looking forward to next Wednesday.”
While PSV have the weekend off before the second leg, Rangers will be at Ross County on Saturday in the cinch Premiership.
However, Butland said: “It’s about momentum. I have never not wanted to have a busy schedule. For us, it’s another game.
“It’s another opportunity to go and win and build momentum and that’s what it’s all about. So for us I’d rather actually go into next Wednesday with a game in between.”