JOB done. On a night when the result was more important than the result, Steven Gerrard got both from Rangers.

This 4-0 victory – earned through second half goals from Ryan Jack, Sheyi Ojo, Borna Barisic and Alfredo Morelos – secures Rangers’ place in the next round of the Europa League. It was comfortable and relatively comprehensive, and while greater challenges undoubtedly await, it was a pleasing evening for boss Gerrard.

He had warned against complacency in his press conference at the Victoria Stadium on Monday evening and there was little chance of Rangers taking anything for granted here, even given the gulf in resources and starkly different expectation levels.

It was clear how much this match meant to St Joseph’s and their supporters. This was the biggest game in their history and a day to remember, but a result that won’t be cherished.


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With the Rock of Gibraltar on one side and the airport on the other, this was a surreal yet picturesque venue for Gerrard to begin his second term as boss. A bagpipe and guitar duo that provided pre-match entertainment, in the loosest sense of the word, added to a somewhat surreal feel around this qualifier.

While Rangers were here on business, St Joseph’s were revelling in the occasion. While quality was lacking from the hosts, there was certainly no shortage of effort on a poor plastic pitch.

Rangers didn’t train on the surface the night before the game and it took them time to adjust to the slow roll and uneven bounce on a park that was sticky and hardly provided ideal underfoot conditions.

It was no excuse for Rangers, however, and despite being sluggish at moments they really should have had the game won by half-time. Chances weren’t created at will, but there were still enough of them carved out at the foot of the Rock.

The first arrived after just five minutes as Ojo collected a flick from Jermain Defoe and showed strength and power to drive from midfield into a dangerous position. From the edge of the box, his shot was blocked.

It was a bright start for the winger and he looked a threat when he got up to speed. Ojo had another handful of nice touches but he couldn’t find the net as an effort from the left was saved and another from close range couldn’t beat keeper Francisco Vera.


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On the other flank, there were flashes of speed and guile from Jordan Jones. Again, he had some promising moments as he looked to drive down the wing and jink his way into more central areas but the Northern Irishman couldn’t unlock the St Joseph’s defence.

There was a reluctance from Rangers to try their luck from distance and the Gibraltarians were adept enough at defending deep and making it difficult for Gerrard’s side. When the Gers did have a pop, Glen Kamara found the side netting and Steven Davis spurned a real chance in the final seconds as he scuffed a shot wide from the edge of the area.

The Light Blues fans were sun-kissed on the far side of the park and it was only ever going to be them that had a goal to cheer. Even when St Joseph’s did get into the final third, Allan McGregor remained untested as Cristian Pecci and then Domingo Jesus Ferrer saw strikes rise over the bar.

Just four minutes into the second half, Rangers finally got their goal. Jones and Barisic combined down the left and the Croatian’s cross was met by Jack in the middle of the box.

He had time and space and made the most of it, his cushioned finish into the corner of the goal leaving keeper Vera helpless as Rangers took a deserved lead.

Soon, the game was won and the tie was over. A deft, curling strike from Ojo from just inside the area gave supporters seeing him for the first time a reason to be optimistic and the goal was deserved in an encouraging showing.

The performance from Defoe to that stage had been less impressive and it was no surprise that he made way as Gerrard made his first two changes. Morelos replaced him through the middle, while Joe Aribo made a competitive debut as he took over from Jack.

By the time the third change was made – Greg Stewart coming on for Jones – Rangers had their third goal. That really did secure things.


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There was a brief sense of confusion after Connor Goldson converted from inches out, but the strike was Barisic’s. A curling free-kick saw Vera dive to his left but he didn’t do enough to keep it out.

A further shine was added to the scoreline when Morelos converted from a Tavernier cross to get off and running for the campaign and the closing minutes were stress free and celebratory for Rangers.

The second leg at Ibrox a week on Thursday will be a competitive game in name, but Rangers will be able to ease through the 90 minutes with their place in the second round confirmed. As starts go, this was about all Gerrard could have asked for.