IT was a tough start for Celtic and Rangers in Europe this week with their opening group stage matches being against probably the top sides in their group.

Celtic were away from home and it could be argued that they have an even harder group than Rangers with Leverkusen also being in their section.

Real Betis haven’t a great European pedigree with this being the first time they have been in Europe for eight years, but they are playing in an extremely competitive league against quality players on a weekly basis.

Celtic played reasonably well and although they got three goals, they didn’t make the most of their other chances.

You have to measure this with the fact that they have lost three crucial goal scorers in the last month, having sold Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie and with Kyogo Furuhashi now injured.

They have brought in Giorgos Giakoumakis and Joao Felipe Jota but they will obviously take time to fit in with the system and their team-mates.

I’ve made my point before that I’ve been impressed by manager Ange Postecoglou and I do feel he will develop this altered squad to compete both on the domestic front and ultimately in Europe too.

This is only the first group-stage match and being without skipper Callum McGregor was also a setback for the manager considering how well he has started the season.

It is a strong group and it will be interesting to see how Celtic cope with it once they get their shape and personnel established.

Rangers obviously were considered the side with more of an opportunity to put points on the board with a home match, but they were also subject to a setback with Filip Helander being ruled out by injury.

Leon Balogun was able to fill in at centre-back, which is his preferred position although his best performance for Rangers was at right-back in the Old Firm game.

He did play well alongside Connor Goldson but Lyon were always going to be a threat with the attacking talent they have, despite being without Moussa Dembele.

They have sprung back to form in recent weeks and I’m sure they felt that they could come to Ibrox and play for a win rather than being cautious without their main goal scorer.

Rangers, on the other hand, had to attack considering it was a home match.

In the early part of the game Rangers were the better side but getting the opening goal gave Lyon a pivotal advantage and made them more relaxed in possession.

The problem I’ve seen in recent weeks is that Rangers are not performing well on the attacking side of the game.

Manager Steven Gerrard has been loyal to players who were very productive for him last season, but too many are underperforming. The best examples of this are Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent.

Morelos, in fairness, had scored against both Rangers’ European opponents this season but overall he has been pretty ineffective.

He is falling into the category of if he doesn’t score then you are playing with 10 men.

Morelos was pretty active in previous seasons with his work rate and linking up with team-mates, in addition to his goals so I’m sure Gerrard must be concerned about him.

Kent is another example of a player establishing a great reputation which is then gradually diminished due to indifferent form.

On Thursday he was actually playing the best I’ve seen from him this season and he brought a great save from the Lyon keeper.

However, he was responsible for giving the ball away twice that led to both Lyon’s goals.

He is a very talented player but his form has to be more consistent.

Rangers’ European record under Gerrard has been excellent and if they lift themselves attack wise they can compete in this group, although it will be challenging.


I WAS sorry to hear about the ridiculous sectarian abuse directed at John McGinn last weekend.

I was also surprised, considering it was a match being played by Aston Villa against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

I was never subjected to sectarian abuse in my time playing in England although I was many times whilst playing in Scotland, and especially in my time at Rangers.

I still get it sometimes, with the most recent case only a few weeks ago in Glasgow’s West End.

I hope John was able to deal with it in the manner that I always do, which is to put it in perspective.

These people giving sectarian abuse never demean you, they only demean themselves.