Rangers and Steven Gerrard proved greatness in draw with Villarreal: Lafferty
Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty is hoping Thursday evening's Europa League draw can herald better days ahead, both personally and for the team.
The Northern Ireland forward netted his first goal in European competition to seal a 2-2 draw away at Villarreal.
It was his 18th appearance in either of the two UEFA competitions but the first since 2011, when he was still enjoying his spell at Ibrox.
Now that he's off the mark, Lafferty is confident he can make Europa League goals a regular occurrence and that Rangers can go on to enjoy success.
“I just hope it doesn’t take another 17 games for me to get my next one," he said.
“I was delighted to get the goal. I told Borna to try to hit the front post if he got the chance and thankfully he managed that.
“The second-half display was excellent and we deserved a point. Before the goal I don’t think I had many touches, never mind chances.
“They had most of the possession but we were able to catch them on the break. It wasn’t ideal to concede a goal so early. We were really up against it.
“But when you spend £70m on your team that is the quality you can buy. They are a top-class team full of top-class players but we dug deep.
“The gaffer said he wasn’t happy with the first-half performance and we went out after the break and were much more positive.
“We had the belief and we were able to roll up our sleeves and dig deep. We showed we have a great team with a great manager.”
That boss, Steven Gerrard, was equally full of praise for Lafferty, claiming the striker has backed up his reputation as a big game player.
“Sometimes away from home in Europe when you’re playing up on your own it can be a thankless task," Gerrard said.
“You can give in and get frustrated but the control on Kyle’s finish and the way he used the speed of the cross was fantastic.
“I’m no expert on being a number nine - there’s one at the back, he will tell you - but he kept it low and used the pace to guide it in. It was a fabulous finish finish and one our man at the back will be very proud of.
“I know it’s the first goal for Kyle at this level but he has scored many international goals, which is obviously a very high level.
“It’s not a surprise to me he scored tonight, it’s the reason I played him, it’s the reason I bought him and wanted him back here because I know he likes the big stage.
“I know he’s capable of scoring big goals. Before we signed him he scored an important goal against Celtic. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing against, the standard of the team, he believes in himself, he backs himself."
Belfast Telegraph Digital