Rangers have taken a step closer to securing UEFA Europa League knockout stage qualification after defeating Sparta Prague 2-1 at Ibrox Stadium tonight.
Danilo fired Rangers ahead in the sixth minute before Todd Cantwell’s first goal of the season doubled their advantage 14 minutes later.
Lukas Haraslin got the visitors back in it when he pulled one back with 13 minutes to play. Rangers responded immediately and thought they had restored their two-goal lead when Danilo netted his second of the evening, but the goal was subsequently ruled out by VAR for a foul.
Philippe Clement’s side now have seven points on the board. They are three points clear of Sparta Prague and two points behind group leaders Real Betis. Due to having the head-to-head advantage over the Czechs, a win against Aris Limassol at Ibrox later this month will guarantee qualification for the knockout stages with one match to spare.
However, the Rangers boss is calling for calm after tonight’s result and performance. He said:
“If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s that players think that we are now qualified.
“We made a really important step forward that’s true but we don’t have anything in our hands for the moment.
“So it’s now confirmation for this game against Aris to get our points, or in the game against Betis, we still have two games to go also.
“It’s focus, concentration to try to get three points in every game but we know football is a game that you don’t always get what you deserve, or there can be circumstances that go against you, so we need to be top every time.”
Rangers midfielder Todd Cantwell also spoke about his special relationship with fellow goalscorer Danilo. He said:
“It’s amazing, me and Danny (Danilo) were having a laugh at the end. We tease other and sing each other’s songs now and again but it’s nice you know, it builds morale.
“For the lads that don’t speak perfect English, it’s a nice way to break the ice as such and build chemistry in other ways.
“From the moment we started playing together on the pitch I could tell we were going to have a good connection on the ball and luckily we really get on off the pitch as well so I think that’s always important.