WIN it for Fernando. Those were the instructions of Rangers manager Steven Gerrard on the night the Ibrox club paid tribute to their fallen hero Fernando Ricksen, whose brave, public fight against motor neurone disease ended this week at the age of just 43. Win it they duly did, and there was no better tribute than the way the Ibrox side dug in for victory after the early setback of spurning a penalty. But what else did we learn from an emotional night at Ibrox.


You could say, like the words of the famous Abba song, that there was something in the air last night. The match kicked off to a glorious Govan sunset, a shrine of scarves and flags at two entries to the stadium, fans bedecked in orange, Rangers fans unfurling a banner which read ‘A warrior until the end, Rest easy Fernando’.

There was an impeccably observed minute’s silence, then burst of applause in the second minute in recognition of the shirt number which the club’s former Dutch international midfielder worn for the duration of a trophy-laden career at Ibrox. It seemed as if the script was written when current captain James Tavernier, wearing that same No 2 shirt, stepped up to take a spot kick. Perhaps the moment weighed too heavily on him, as he uncharacteristically rolled the ball off the post. But that apart this was a Rangers display to treasure, with no failures all over the park.

READ MORE: Rousing display and stunning European win prove a fitting way for Rangers to honour Fernando Ricksen


Considering they had one of the most assured defenders the world has ever seen barking out instructions on the sideline, Feyenoord put in the kind of defensive display which must have had their manager scratching that famously bald head of his.

So often his back players were diving into challenges and throwing themselves into situations where they couldn’t influence the play. Or only succeeding in frittering away possession when they attempted to build from the back.

Having said that, I’m not sure I’ve seen Alfredo Morelos lead the line better than he did here, spinning his men and running in behind routinely. While he received a deserved booking for a lunge on the goalkeeper, he walked the tightrope for the remainder of the game well.

And with a little bit more composure in the penalty box, this game could have been safe for Rangers before half-time which augurs well for the return trip to Rotterdam in November. Having said that, Allan McGregor still had to look lively to deny low drives from an angle from first Steven Berghuis then substitute Luciano Narsingh.


If the Ricksen tributes provided a touching backdrop, they received their counterpoint in some violent clashes here at half-time. Feyenoord’s hooligans travel with a notorious reputation and sadly they lived up to it when a section of their fans clashed with police and stewards as they made a bee-line for home supporters. A section of the home areas were closed last night due to sectarian chanting during the home match with Legia Warsaw, with the club deciding to refuse their allocation for the meeting with Young Boys in Bern in a fortnight’s time.

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At times this season Borna Barisic has appeared to be Gerrard’s third choice for the left back spot, if not downright living on borrowed time at the club. Last night might just have been the night when the Croatian international started turning things around. As much as Berghuis floated in an out of his area, Barisic had already showed good poise at both ends by the time he showed the kind of desire his manager longs to see in him to rob Rick Karsdorp high up the park. The ball dropped to Sheyi Ojo, who struck in a screamer from 25 yards. Barisic might have ended with a couple more assists on the night, with his corners finding the head of Goldson and and a couple of crosses finding both Morelos and Ojo.


As of last night, the Rangers back line and goalkeeper have conceded just three goals in nine matches. This kind of parsimony wins you matches in Europe, and credit goes to Gerrard for finding the narrow 4-3-2-1 shape which makes them so hard to play through.

The Englishman threw in a curve ball last night, though, with a first European start for Filip Helander, a £3.5m signing who has previously only been sighted at East Fife and St Mirren. While he earned a second half booking for crudely stopping one Berghuis charge, this was a decent display for a man who is more natural on his left side than Nikola Katic, who found himself left out of the team for “tactical reasons”. Having said that, he can hardly claim to have been overly tested. Rangers didn’t let Feyenoord up the park often enough for that.