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Seeded Rangers will pose real threat in Europa League knockouts after topping group, roars Gerrard

Lech Poznan 0 Rangers 2

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Net profit: Rangers ace Ianis Hagi bags the second in his side’s victory over Lech Poznan in Poland

Net profit: Rangers ace Ianis Hagi bags the second in his side’s victory over Lech Poznan in Poland

AP

Net profit: Rangers ace Ianis Hagi bags the second in his side’s victory over Lech Poznan in Poland

Steven Gerrard has warned that Rangers are ready to take on anyone after marching into the last-32 of the Europa League as group winners.

A 2-0 win over Lech Poznan - sealed with goals from Cedric Itten and Ianis Hagi - clinched top spot in Group D and ensured they will be seeded for Monday's midday draw in Nyon.

Gers are unbeaten in 26 games at home and abroad this term, and had it not been for two late slip-ups against Benfica they would have won all six games.

Gerrard, however, admits a club that only three years ago were dumped out of Europe by minnows Progres Niederkorn are still not ready to declare themselves a continental heavyweight. But he reckons they will be a stiff test for whoever they land in the next round.

The Ibrox boss, whose team will avoid the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen and Roma, said: "It is a huge achievement to win the group and thoroughly deserved.

"Going on our performances, we deserve to be in the No.1 position, and with a bit more experience we could have won the six games. But I don't think we are ready to be named in the same bracket as some of those big powerhouses across Europe.

"We have to focus and concentrate on ourselves. Our progress and how quickly we are moving forward is clear to see, certainly from a European point of view.

"There were a lot of changes that needed to be made when we came in because of what had gone on in Europe in terms of not qualifying against part-timers in the first round.

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Cedric Itten celebrates

Cedric Itten celebrates

AFP via Getty Images

Cedric Itten celebrates

"So to be at this level now and competing and beating teams at this level shows the big steps that we have taken. The challenge now is can we keep building on it? We are looking forward to the draw on Monday. We will need a bit of luck, of course we will.

"But when Europe comes around again in February time we will hopefully have a fit squad and if we do we will be a challenge for whoever we face."

Gerrard was able to rest some key men - including skipper James Tavernier, Steven Davis, Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe - and still claim victory.

Youngster Nathan Paterson, Bongani Zungu and Itten came in for their first European starts and helped Gers complete a straightforward win. But it was no surprise to the manager that Gers' second string coped well.

"I don't think I have learned too much because I had trust and confidence making the seven changes," he said. "The players have got to go out and prove me right by those decisions, but this is the best I have felt in terms of our squad strength and I've confidence in the 24 or 25 players."

Belfast Telegraph


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