JAMES TAVERNIER is confident Rangers’ time will come after they were left defeated and demoralised at the end of a heart-breaking Betfred Cup final.

The Light Blues dominated Celtic at Hampden but were left with nothing to show for their efforts as Christopher Jullien netted a controversial second half winner.

The fact that the Frenchman was offside from Ryan Christie’s free-kick only served to rub further salt in the wounds as Rangers missed a host of chances, including a penalty from Alfredo Morelos, on a hugely disappointing afternoon.

It was another bitter pill to swallow for captain Tavernier but he is sure Steven Gerrard’s side will respond in the right manner as they look to clinch a Europa League knockout berth this week.

Tavernier said: “Looking back at their goal, it’s really disappointing that the linesman didn’t catch three of their players offside.

“It was their only chance on target. It’s just disappointing because we created so many chances and Fraser (Forster) in their net kept them in the game by backing incredible saves.

“I think our team will bounce back. From the display we put in there, our time will come. It’s obviously hurting everyone, including myself, but we will bounce back.

“Thursday night against Young Boys. We have to out this out of our mind as quickly as possible.

“We are all mentally strong in that dressing room. I have got great belief in the lads and so does the gaffer and his staff.

“We’ve got to bounce back on Thursday. It’s hard one to take, especially given how we dominated the game today, but our time will come.”

Rangers were left to wonder how they were beaten at Hampden as Neil Lennon’s side scored with their only real chance of a largely one-sided final encounter.

And Tavernier was disappointed that referee Willie Collum and his team allowed Jullien’s effort to stand as it ultimately proved the difference on the day.

He said: “At the time, I didn’t realise the goal was offside. It’s mind-boggling that the officials didn’t see that.

“Not one of our players is deeper than any of their players at any point when that free-kick is taken and comes into the box.

“That hurts. We thought we really defended well, apart from the chance in the second half when Mikey Johnston put it wide. That was their only two chances and we played really well today.”

That chance for Johnston aside, Rangers were rarely troubled by Celtic as boss Lennon had Forster to thank for keeping his side in the tie with a string of superb saves.

There were plenty of positives for Gerrard to take in terms of the performance but Rangers weren’t clinical when it mattered as Morelos in particular were denied time after time.

This will be a difficult defeat for the Gers to recover from but Tavernier is sure they have the character to come back and ensure there is no longer-term damage at Ibrox.

He said: “You saw the character out there. Not one person hid. This was a game we had to stand up like men and I believe our squad did that.

“I am extremely proud of them. I have great belief we will bounce back.

“We have another ‘cup final’ on Thursday and I believe in them, we will come out firing for that game. It is obviously hurtful today but we are all mentally strong. Our time will come.

“There is a lot more to play for out there. With the squad we have, we believe our time will come. It was evident today the way we played. It showed how strong we were. Another day our time will come.

“We’ve got to bounce back. It’s hard one to take because we wanted to do it for the fans and bring silverware back to Ibrox.

“It wasn’t possible today but, like I said, our time will come. This is not the end of us. We have a great squad and I believe we will bounce back.”