KEMAR Roofe’s record-breaking wonder strike from just inside his own half may have delighted football supporters, not just Rangers fans, far and wide on Thursday evening.

But for manager Steven Gerrard, his side’s all-round display in their opening Europa League group match against Standard Liege and the final outcome in the Stade Muarice Dufrasne were every bit as impressive and pleasing.

The Ibrox club had featured in one round of European football in seven long years before Gerrard was appointed and that double header against Luxembourgian minnows Progres Niederkorn back in 2017 hardly, none of their followers needs to be reminded, ended well.

Losing to part-time opponents in a qualifier was a far cry from triumphing away in Belgium in their first Group D fixture earlier this week.

The 2-0 win in the was their first victory in a European competition proper since they overcame Lyon 3-0 in the Champions League way back in 2007 and underlined to Gerrard just how far they have come in a short space of time.

“You can definitely see the signs of progress,” he said. “We are in a real good place at the moment. They’re playing well they’re playing with belief. They’re going out and they’re really carrying out what we’re asking of them.”

The former Champions League winner, though, remains determined for Rangers, who made it through to the last 16 last season, to build on what they have achieved to date in continental competition.

He will be looking for them to follow up their impressive start by taking another three points from their encounter with Lech Poznan in Poland this week.

“I think the challenge for myself and the staff is to try and keep the group and the players in the zone that they’re in,” he said. “We are really close to full health. We are in good shape. You need a little bit of luck along the way obviously with the Covid situation and injuries. But if we can remain where we are now in terms of the bill of health we have got it will certainly help moving forward.

“Over the last couple of years we have tried to build something here and we’ll continue to do that. You can’t stand still and you can’t get carried away, that’s for sure. It’s about trying to learn from our mistakes and get the players in the same place for every game, treat every game with the same respect. They can’t pick and choose when they turn up.

“The biggest challenge for this squad of players is can they be in the same place for every game no matter if it’s home or away or whatever competition it is in. We feel as if we’ve got the right numbers and right players where we are right now. But the key is to not stand still and believe in any hype or noise around it.”

The sensational Roofe goal against Liege, whipped in from 54.6 yards out after he had beaten three players, hogged the headlines on Thursday night. Gerrard, who netted a few spectacular efforts himself in his own playing days, felt it was one of the finest, perhaps the finest, he had ever witnessed. But the team display was just as satisfying.

“The performance was very strong,” he said. “A lot of players deserve the praise that they got. It was the first time we have won a group stage game for some time. We were close last year, put in some really good positive results on the road. We have come close. It shows that sign of progress, getting that win.

“I have seen similar goals in terms of the execution, in terms of the distance and the strike. I have seen Rooney do it, I have seen Beckham do it, I have seen Suarez do it. I have seen some real top goals from world-class players. I think that is right up there with the best.

“But go back to the area where he received the ball on a very wet pitch in the worst conditions that I have coached in and been involved in. To hold two really strong players off the way he did and then to go past the third and execute it with the vision and the technique? I think it is possibly the best.”

Roofe’s goal has led to speculation that he will be preferred to Alfredo Morelos up front going forward. The mercurial Colombian forward has now gone six games without netting. Gerrard confessed he has no idea what impact his team mate’s eye-catching effort will have on the striker’s mindset. “I don’t know what goes on in his head,” he said. “I wish I did know.”

But the former Liverpool and England midfielder is unconcerned with statistics and still has complete faith in the man who became the first to score 14 goals in a European club competition before Christmas last term in Poznan.

“You have to appreciate what Alfredo brings to the team,” he said. “I judge Alfredo on what he gives the team in and out of possession. Do the players want him in the team? Do they feel like they need him? Does he help in different ways?

“Of course we all want goals and that is a big part of his job. But just because he’s not on the scoresheet doesn’t mean that he hasn’t done the job for the team or we’re not happy with the job he has given.

“I make decisions on different things and, of course, goals is one of them. The team is playing well, Alfredo is helping the team in a different way. It’s up to Alfredo to get himself back amongst the goals because we’re certainly providing chances for him. This is not a case where I’m concerned that he’s not getting the service.

“Alfredo needs to keep his head down, keep working hard and believe that the goals will come. I’m confident they will. But he won’t play every game. It’s my job to bring him in and out at the right time when I feel it is the right time to rest him.”