RANGERS manager Steven Gerrard believes that his team played like men and did their talking on the pitch as they saw off outspoken Croatian side NK Osijek to progress to the next stage of qualification to the Europa League.

A Nikola Katic header early in the second half moved Rangers ahead on the night and put them two goals to the good in the tie, meaning that a late strike by Osijek captain Borna Barisic had no bearing on the outcome.

It did though make for a nervy finale to the game, but Gerrard was impressed by the way his players made their opponents eat their pre-match fighting talk through their actions on the field of play.

“Talking doesn’t win you football matches, it doesn’t get you results,” said Gerrard. “Sometimes it doesn’t help your players, it just motivates the opposition.

“We thrive on all that kind of talk. We enjoyed it. My players came out and played like men and we did our talking on the pitch.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the players and now it’s all about dusting ourselves down for a big game [against Aberdeen at Pittodrie] at the weekend.”

Gerrard was delighted to see his players stand up when the pressure was on late in the match, and he believes that Rangers are now sending out a signal to their opponents that they will no longer be the soft touch they were for long periods of last season.

He was particularly impressed by the performances of the big characters in his side such as Allan McGregor and Ryan Jack, and in fact, so pleased was he with Jack’s showing that the former Liverpool and England captain said he was jealous of how well he played.

“We are going to have moments when it’s a bit turbulent and backs against the wall,” he said.

“But that’s the reason we brought in leaders and characters like Allan McGregor. When you need him to be big, he’s big. We brought in two centre halves who have been outstanding.

“Now people are feeling us, they know we are not a soft touch.

“As a midfielder, I was jealous of Ryan Jack’s performance tonight. It was stunning. I had watched Ryan from the outside. But it’s not until you get close up to these players that you see what they are about and how hungry they are, how they live their lives.

“I think I have got a good type on my hands there. He is player who cares, who wants to win and is prepared to go out on the pitch and do exactly what you have asked of him.

“I think he made one minor mistake there in 90 minutes in a big football match. This is a kid who missed six months at the back end of last season. I am delighted with Ryan’s performance.”

Gerrard was also glowing in his praise for defender Katic, whose goal on the night ultimately sank his countrymen.

“I love him,” he said. “Is he a hot prospect? Yeah, but he’s mine.”