Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst stood by his decision to bring Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey on as late substitutes following their penalties loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in Wednesday's Europa League final.

With scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Van Bronckhorst brought the two on in the 117th minute with penalties in mind. Ramsey was the only player to not convert his penalty, Kevin Trapp saving with his feet at 3-3, before Rafael Borre followed Roofe's spot-kick to secure a 5-4 shootout win for Eintracht.

It was the Gers' second Europa League final loss in as many appearances, following 2008's 2-0 loss to Zenit in Manchester.

According to Van Bronckhorst, despite evident disappointment in the changing rooms afterwards, his final list of penalty takers was impacted by a combination of factors including Borna Barisic's inability to take one of the penalties, and pre-match preparation.

"It was tough, physically, but the players gave everything and gave all their effort on the pitch," Van Bronckhorst said post-match. "I subbed some players because they were struggling physically, but I cannot complain. They gave everything and that's all you can ask as a coach.

"Borna had to go out and he's one of the first penalty kickers in the game. We trained in penalty kicks, because some players are comfortable taking them. We had a good feel of players who wanted to take a penalty and players who didn't. In the end we had our list and we had to adjust it because of the subs.

"You could see it after the game straight away, it's never a nice feeling. Everyone is very disappointed and you can sense that in the locker room. I think it's normal, so soon after the game, but Aaron took responsibility to take the penalty. Unfortunately he didn't make it, but you want players who are comfortable and who are ready to take them."

Rangers created sporadic opportunities, with Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener at the top of the penalty area one of their only four shots in the box.

The game petered after Borre's equaliser in the 69th, but Ryan Kent had the best chance to win the match in extra-time, only to be denied by Trapp from close range under pressure from Kristijan Jakic.

Ultimately, Van Bronckhorst asserted he could not fault the effort of his players, and understands their post-match predicament more than most.

"Especially in those minutes near the end of the game, it's decisive," he said. "It's a big chance for us, but Ryan did everything he can to score the goal. In the end, you know when you have chances you have to take them."

"If you play a final in Europe and you lose, it's going to hurt, because if you play a final you will do everything you can to win it. In the end, with penalties, it's a lottery and tonight we weren't on the good side.

"But I can't complain with everything my players gave and in the games before tonight. In the end, I think it was a really tight game. Went all the way to penalties and, you know, we lost. A big disappointment because we were so close to winning a trophy. I lost a World Cup final, the biggest game there is, also a huge disappointment but you have to move on."

Giovanni van Bronckhorst can continue to take Rangers to new heights after their Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt, believes former Ibrox favourite Shota Arveladze.

The Scottish Premiership outfit are bidding for a second major European honour in their history, half a century on from their Cup Winners' Cup triumph, in Seville on Wednesday.

It marks an outstanding achievement for Van Bronckhorst, having only taken the reins from Steven Gerrard halfway through the season after the title-winning manager left for Aston Villa.

But the Dutchman, who enjoyed a three-year spell at Rangers as a player, could lift the team up another level with time, according to Arveladze.

"Gio shows every single game and every single day how [much] further he could bring the team, bring the club," the Hull City manager told Stats Perform.

"Credit to Gerrard, who did a good job before him, and which Gio continues, of course. That is Rangers, that is what we want. He is really [the] boss that knows what to do."

Rangers have turned over two Bundesliga sides already, in the shape of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, to reach this week's showpiece encounter.

Arveladze feels they should have no fear in taking on one more, pointing to a superior record in such encounters as suggestion they can get under Eintracht's skin.

"I would say it has been fantastic," he added on their run and results. "I am always curious [about them] having a hard time against the German teams.

"But to be honest, except for Bayern Munich, I think Rangers [could] beat every German club this year. [They are] playing a fantastic game, an offensive game which is always great to see."

Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst is not worried about the lack of a so-called "Ibrox factor" in Wednesday's Europa League final, adamant Gers fans will more than contribute to the atmosphere in Seville.

Eintracht Frankfurt stand between Rangers and a first European trophy since 1972, when the Scottish giants won the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Van Bronckhorst's side have already exceeded expectations by reaching the showpiece, which will take place at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, home of six-time UEFA Cup/Europa League winners Sevilla.

Rangers' home form has been vital en route to the final, particularly in the context of their results on the road.

Gers have won only one Europa League game away from home this season, the 4-2 thriller at Borussia Dortmund in February, while their three European trips since then have all ended in defeat.

Yet Rangers have been spurred on by a raucous home crowd at Ibrox, particularly in the knockout phase – they have won each of their past three Europa League matches as hosts, scoring three in all of them.

Spanish police are expecting roughly 150,000 Rangers and Eintracht fans to be in Seville for Wednesday's game. As such, Van Bronckhorst is not worried about a lack of backing.

Asked how crucial the support will be, Van Bronckhorst told reporters: "It will be a factor because our fans are supporting us really well.

"Of course, Ibrox is a huge factor and in the ties we played this season in Europe we knew to get a good result away from home to take back to Ibrox [because] we are capable of winning against any team [at home].

"Of course, a final is different because it's only one game you play, not at Ibrox but in Seville, I think we'll both [Rangers and Eintracht] feel that.

"It's different, but still I think you will hear them a lot tomorrow, our fans, and I think our performances can be good as well, so I think we are ready and we'll play the way we always do and give everything we have to win this game."

The presence of Kemar Roofe certainly will not hurt Rangers' chances of success on Wednesday, with the striker back in contention following an injury.

Roofe hurt his knee last month as Rangers beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals, and even as recently as last week Van Bronckhorst acknowledged the forward's participation in Seville was doubtful.

But the Dutchman confirmed Roofe is available to face Eintracht, with his involvement now just a selection matter.

"Kemar is available. He trained for the first time with us yesterday [Monday]," Van Bronckhorst added. "He did individual training before that, and he will be training with us [on Tuesday].

"He will be in the squad and I want to use him, he is available."

Roofe has scored 16 times for Rangers across all competitions this season despite not being a guaranteed starter – 16 of his 35 appearances have come from the bench.

The return of Roofe is made all the more important by Alfredo Morelos' absence through a long-term injury.

"Of course, it's a boost for us," Van Bronckhorst said. "He got injured a couple weeks ago when he was in a good spell.

"He's very important for team. I'm happy he's back because he was working hard to be ready for the Leipzig game.

"He didn't make it so we just extended [the season] for him with the final. He is here and he is ready to play his part."

Giovanni van Bronckhorst hopes to buck history when Rangers face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final, as he aims to become just the second manager to win a European trophy at the club.

The Dutchman will lead the Scottish Premier League giants in Seville next Wednesday against their Bundesliga rivals as the famous Glasgow club bid for only a second continental trophy.

Rangers were beaten by Zenit in the UEFA Cup final in Manchester 14 years ago

Their only previous taste of European glory came in the 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they won under Willie Waddell with a defeat of Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona.

Half a century on, Van Bronckhorst could repeat the feat with a triumph in Spain, and the Rangers boss is desperate to lift the trophy.

"It means a lot," he told a press conference. "There aren't many managers in the history of this club who played a European final.

"There's only one who actually won it. For the club, it would be fantastic to win a second prize in Europe."

Referring to the lack of European success for Scottish clubs, the Dutchman added: "It's not often you play finals, it's not often you play finals in Europe as a Scottish team.

"It's very rare that it happens. We're really honoured and proud that we are in the final in Seville, and can enjoy this occasion with many fans all around the world.

"We're representing this beautiful club, we're representing Scotland, so we have to make sure we give a good impression, and that's what we want to do."

Touching on his side's impressive exploits in beating RB Leipzig to reach the final, Van Bronckhorst says the memory will live him with a long time, while stressing the job is not yet done.

"The Leipzig game was one of the best nights I've experienced as a player and a manager," he added. "But it is very important that we keep going.

"The last two games we've played, against Dundee United and Ross County, we didn't relax because we need the same intensity, the same desire to play against Frankfurt.

"I don't want my players to slip up. Saturday [when Rangers play Hearts] is a bit different, because we're going to change some players, but I think we're ready for the final. That's all that matters now."

John Lundstram saluted his "best night by a country mile" after firing Rangers to the Europa League final after their dramatic victory over RB Leipzig on Thursday.

The midfielder was the hero as he struck the winner 10 minutes from time for Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side, who prevailed 3-2 on aggregate at Ibrox.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, first-half goals from James Tavernier and Glen Kamara turned the tie on its head, before Christopher Nkunku squared proceedings with 20 minutes remaining.

But there was to be one late twist as Lundstram sent Ibrox into ecstasy, with his goal setting up a showdown with Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville on May 18.

"I can't put it into words," he told BT Sport. "I came in with a good feeling, but to actually go out and do it, I can't put it into words.

"We've been through so many ups and downs this season but to come through it and reach a Europa League final, wow!

"It's my best night by a country mile."

Lundstram also paid tribute to Rangers' much-loved kit man Jimmy Bell, who died on Wednesday at the age of 69.

"Words can’t describe how much Jimmy meant to everyone," the midfielder added. "He was the bedrock of the team. 

"I want to dedicate the goal tonight to him, I love him to bits."

Skipper Tavernier added: "It's unbelievable. A European final; it's what you dream of.

"We'll go there [Seville] full of confidence. Frankfurt got there for a reason, but it's one game and we'll fully back ourselves. 

"We're in this to win it. We want to make all the fans proud."

Meanwhile, Van Bronckhorst was delighted with the efforts of his players, and has urged them to grasp their opportunity in the final.

"It's very hard to find the words. It's been an amazing night," the head coach said.

"We said before the game we'd do everything possible. The players were fantastic. You can't write a script better than this. We're all very proud.

"Not many players can play European finals. It's not for every player. Once we're there, we need to do everything to win it. It's remarkable."

Celtic's Carl Starfelt put through his own net deep into extra-time as Rangers came from behind to beat their Old Firm rivals 2-1 in a frantic Scottish Cup semi-final.

Greg Taylor fired a low finish beyond Jon McLaughlin shortly after the hour to hand Celtic the lead, before substitute Scott Arfield bent home a brilliant leveller to force additional time.

With a penalty shoot-out on the horizon, Starfelt deflected Calvin Bassey's left-wing cross past Joe Hart to send Rangers to their 53rd Scottish Cup final, where Hearts lie in wait after overcoming Hibernian on Saturday. 

A boisterous atmosphere gave way to a frantic opening at Hampden Park, with Ryan Kent firing over under pressure and Jota heading onto the roof of the net at the other end.

John Lundstram curled against the post as Rangers enjoyed the better of the first half, but their threat faded somewhat after Aaron Ramsey was injured shortly before the break.

Ange Postecoglou's side improved after half time and took the lead after 63 minutes, Taylor spinning on Callum McGregor's inventive shot free-kick before firing into the bottom-right corner.

The Hoops went close to a quickfire second five minutes later when Cameron Carter-Vickers crashed a left-footed shot against the crossbar from a corner.

They were made to pay for that missed opportunity after 78 minutes with Arfield latching onto Kemar Roofe's heavy touch to curl home just four minutes after coming on.

Celtic somehow survived Rangers twice hitting the woodwork in the 110th minute, James Tavernier smashing off the near post and Fashion Sakala diverting the rebound onto the top of the bar.

But Rangers found time for a winner as Bassey's left-wing cutback was diverted into his own net by Starfelt under pressure from Sakala, ending Celtic's treble hopes and booking Rangers' cup final spot.

What does it mean? Rangers continue bid to end cup draught

Rangers have not lifted either of Scotland's two domestic cups since winning the Scottish League Cup in 2011, and Celtic have won the Scottish Cup on six occasions since the Ibrox outfit last did so in 2009.

Their extra-time win means they will appear in May's showpiece event for the 53rd time, where they will look to lift their first domestic cup in over a decade.

Celtic's treble hopes in tatters

Meanwhile, Celtic went into this game looking to keep their hopes of a fifth domestic treble in six seasons alive, after winning the Scottish League Cup in December and establishing a six-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership. 

Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men will be delighted with ending the Hoops' dreams of another domestic clean sweep, and could yet win two trophies themselves as they remain in the hunt for the Europa League.

Gers end Postecoglou's derby run

Postecoglou's team looked set for a third successive Old Firm derby win when Taylor fired home the opener, but a stunning Rangers turnaround denied Celtic that feat, and means the Glasgow giants have won two derbies apiece in all competitions this season.

What's next?

Celtic continue their bid to regain the Scottish title at Ross County next Sunday, with Rangers travelling to Motherwell on the same day, looking to capitalise on any slip-up from the leaders.

Kemar Roofe scored an extra-time winner as Rangers secured their place in the Europa League semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over nine-man Braga, who lost 3-2 on aggregate.

James Tavernier's first-half double, including a penalty awarded after Vitor Tormena was dismissed for a foul on Roofe, put Rangers in control with a 2-1 aggregate lead.

David Carmo's 83rd-minute header sent the tie into extra-time before Roofe, who had two goals disallowed, netted the decisive strike prior to Iuri Medeiros being given his marching orders.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men will next face RB Leipzig, who defeated Atalanta 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday, with the first leg of the last-four clash coming on April 28.

Rangers struck first when Tavernier rolled underneath Matheus at the back post after a deflection from Joe Aribo following Borna Barisic's cross.

The hosts were in dreamland three minutes later when Roofe headed home another delivery from Barisic, only for the goal to be ruled out for handball against the full-back.

Roofe then fired against the crossbar from point-blank range following Aribo's flick from a Tavernier corner as Rangers continued to dominate, and their reward arrived soon after.

Tormena was shown red for felling Roofe when through on goal, with Tavernier converting the penalty down the middle.

Roofe saw another strike ruled out in the second half, this time for offside, after chipping Matheus, before Carmo levelled with a powerful header from Medeiros' corner.

Conor Goldson nodded wide in the closing stages before extra-time, where Roofe latched onto Aribo's low cross to turn home from close range.

Medeiros was shown two yellow cards in quick succession for a foul on Leon Balogun and his subsequent riled reaction, before Scott Arfield hit the crossbar, but that miss did not come back to haunt Rangers.

What does it mean? Rangers overcome knockout specialists Braga

Braga had progressed from their previous nine ties in the UEFA Cup and Europa League when winning the first leg, with eight of those previous nine victories coming in home matches.

But Rangers ended that stellar record as they battled valiantly to overturn a first-leg deficit in Europe's secondary club competition for the third time in their last four attempts.

Now, Van Bronckhorst's men must overcome in-form Bundesliga side Leipzig to reach the final.

Terrific Tavernier

Tavernier offered Rangers the perfect start when he netted their fastest goal in the competition after just 71 seconds, and it was also the earliest Braga have conceded in the Europa League.

The hosts' captain then added his second from 12 yards as he became the joint-top scorer in this season's competition (six). No Rangers player has ever scored more in a single European campaign (also Alfredo Morelos in 2019-20 and James Forrest in 1964-65).

Vitor Tormen-ted

Tormena handed Rangers the perfect opportunity to take the aggregate lead by barging through the back of Roofe when he was one-on-one with Matheus.

Not only was the left-back given his early marching orders, but he also gave away possession the most times before his dismissal (eight) and was unsuccessful in all of his three duels.

Medeiros' red then made matters worse as Braga became the first side since Rangers last season to have two players sent off in the same knockout game in the competition.

What's next?

Rangers return to domestic action with an Old Firm clash against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals on Sunday, while Braga visit Estoril the following day.

Allan McGregor stacked up the goalkeeping records as Rangers reached a European quarter-final for the first time since their run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

The 40-year-old made 11 saves to limit Red Star Belgrade to a 2-1 win in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, giving Rangers a 4-2 aggregate victory.

That was three more saves than any other goalkeeper had managed in a Europa League game this season – Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray made eight against Marseille – and the most by a Rangers goalkeeper since the competition was launched in 2009-10, replacing the UEFA Cup.

McGregor's saves total was the highest ever by a goalkeeper aged 40 or above in the Europa League, Opta said. Only Tim Howard, who made 12 saves for Everton against Wolfsburg in 2014, has ever made more stops in a game for a British club in the competition.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist said of McGregor: "He's been fantastic over these two games.

"Some of these saves he's produced, you'd think he's 20 years of age again. He's been wonderful. What a servant to the football club."

It was the first time since David de Gea made 10 stops for Manchester United against Roma on May 6 last year that any goalkeeper had reached double figures in saves in a Europa League match.

McGregor was making his 50th appearance in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, becoming the first Rangers player to reach that landmark with the club.

The last player to make more saves in a Europa League game was Karl-Johan Johnsson of FC Copenhagen in their 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United in August 2020.

McGregor, who missed out on appearing in the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy match through injury, earned praise from current Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"At moments he needs to be there, he is there. I'm really happy with his performances. Even at his age he's really important for us," Van Bronckhorst told BT Sport.

Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round and are beginning to cut a swathe through a strong field of clubs, just as they did on their UEFA Cup run 14 years ago.

Mirko Ivanic gave Red Star an early lead on Thursday and they pushed for more, but Ryan Kent's goal against the run of play in the 56th minute put the Scottish visitors back in control.

A late penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star victory on the night, but it was Rangers who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Van Bronckhorst added: "Our belief is only getting stronger. There are big teams left in the draw, so we have to wait and see tomorrow [when the draw takes place].

"The opponent will be stronger with each round. The result against Dortmund is one that the whole of Europe thinks is a great achievement. We're going to enjoy the night, and then prepare for Dundee on Sunday."

A frustrated Dejan Stankovic believes Rangers’ 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on Thursday was flattering.

Although the Red Star coach admitted it would be tough to turn the tie around in the return leg, his side deserved more from Ibrox.

After an eventful 90 minutes, the end of the match saw Stankovic head straight down the tunnel and decline to shake hands with counterpart Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who was visibly annoyed. The antagonism only resumed in the post-match news conference.

"The result is flattering, and we didn’t have a subordinate role [in the game]. The result didn’t reflect the balance of power on the pitch," Stankovic said afterwards. "We created our chances, offside three times, hit the frame of the goal, a missed penalty."

After a VAR intervention, Rangers took the lead from the penalty spot through James Tavernier, and Alfredo Morelos doubled the margin on 15 minutes.

Aleksandar Katai failed to convert a penalty of Red Star’s own nine minutes later, and had the better opportunities as the match progressed. Rangers capitalised on their chances however, leaving Stankovic to rue what could have been.

The 43-year-old was nevertheless in a defiant mood afterwards, claiming the tie is not yet over, with a return leg at the notoriously hostile Rajko Mitic Stadium looming.

"They were awarded a soft penalty also, and scored three goals from three dead balls. It’s just a shame that the result is disproportionate to what we showed. If we were to lose, the result should have been different with at least one goal scored, if not two. But that’s football," Stankovic said.

"I am convinced that the stands will be packed [in the second leg]. We showed that we can put them in real problems even though they’re a solid, well organised team. I am a realist though, and it will be tough because we didn’t score, but never say never."

The return fixture in Belgrade is next Thursday, with Red Star and Rangers facing Metalac and Dundee respectively on the weekend in domestic competitions.

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst saluted his players as they sent Borussia Dortmund crashing out of the Europa League, describing the 6-4 aggregate victory as "a big moment for the club."

Leading 4-2 after a stunning first-leg performance at Signal Iduna Park, the reigning Scottish Premiership champions endured a tense second leg at Ibrox.

Despite James Tavernier's first-half penalty, Jude Bellingham and Donyell Malen reduced the aggregate deficit to a single goal before the break.

Indeed, Malen might have dragged Dortmund level in the tie, but Tavernier drilled in his second just before the hour mark, ultimately booking the hosts' place in the last-16 draw despite Rangers having a third disallowed after a VAR check.

"It is a big moment for the club, we can make a lot of people proud as it was a difficult game again," Van Bronckhorst told BT Sport.

"We were very unfortunate in some moments where we could have cleared the ball. We had to change something to be more defensively solid.

"[Alfredo] Morelos was much stronger in the second half, and we had many more dangerous moments.

"We trained with three different plans for today. We needed to have scenarios in place to be executed, and I'm glad we did.

"We had a great performance; we played them twice and got four points – it’s a great performance. 

"The last 16 is only top teams; we wait for them, and we look forward to the draw."

Dortmund star Bellingham suggested he and his team-mates only had themselves to blame.

"It was brilliant to play in. A good team, a good test," the England international told BT Sport, having created a joint team-high three chances.

"We didn't have the bite we had in the first half. It's just one of those nights, we didn't take all our chances and they took theirs, fair play to them.

"We've let the fans, the staff and ourselves down. If we look at ourselves in the mirror, we'll realise we could've done more."

Bellingham is not wrong. Dortmund finished with a higher expected goals (xG) than Rangers (2.97 to 2.26).

Two-goal Tavernier, meanwhile, revealed that a tactical reshuffle at the break proved instrumental for Rangers.

"We really stepped up in the second half after we changed tactically, it allowed us to progress," Rangers' captain explained.

"The manager told us that we have to follow the runners and tighten it up a bit; that’s what we do in our back five system, and it works for us.

"We are really impressive, the result was pleasing. I always try to get to back post, and I got the goal today.

"This game shows the character that we have in the squad; we have a great squad that can push through."

Rangers have qualified for the round of 16 in the Europa League for a third consecutive season, which is their longest streak of reaching at least this stage in a major European competition since a run of three between 2005-06 and 2007-08 – they reached the final of the UEFA Cup in the last season of that previous run.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have been eliminated in three of their past four two-legged ties in the knockout stages of the Europa League, losing against Liverpool in the 2015-16 quarter-finals, Salzburg in the 2017-18 round of 16 and Rangers this season.

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels expressed his dismay at the manner in which his team were beaten by Rangers in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off at Signal Iduna Park on Thursday.

The Bundesliga outfit lost 4-2 to the champions of Scotland, finding themselves 4-1 down after 54 minutes before Raphael Guerreiro fired a late goal back to add to Jude Bellingham's earlier effort.

Marco Rose's men were all over the place at the back, with a James Tavernier penalty and Alfredo Morelos' goal giving them a 2-0 half-time lead, before John Lundstram made it three and a Dan-Axel Zagadou own goal restored the three-goal cushion after Bellingham briefly reduced the deficit.

Hummels was far from happy after the game, lamenting the way he and his team-mates conceded the goals, having shipped five in their previous home game against Bayer Leverkusen, which ended in a 5-2 defeat.

The 2014 World Cup winner said to RTL after the defeat: "If you look at the Leverkusen game, we conceded four goals after unnecessarily losing the ball. That happened with the first, second and fourth goals here. I think we know what our problem is. The coach mentions it often enough.

"We're playing an awful lot of nonsensical football, a lot of illogical football and making our opponents so strong.

"Our football is also too complicated. If we play this way, we'll sometimes win and sometimes lose but over the piece, we won't have success."

This was the first time Dortmund have conceded four goals at home in a European game since their 8-4 win against Legia Warsaw in the Champions League in 2016.

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst was understandably beaming with pride after a famous European night for his team, though he acknowledged that there is plenty of work still to be done in next Thursday's second leg at Ibrox.

"It's a very good result for us against a quality team, a big team in Europe," he said. "We wanted to take a result back with us to Glasgow to get a good game next week.

"I think we achieved that with the two goal difference we take back and I'm really proud of the performance the players have shown.

"We also know we're only halfway and there's still one game to be played but to come here and score four away goals in Europe is a very good achievement, so I'm more than happy with the result, and especially the performance."

Rangers gave the Old Firm Derby away to Celtic, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst does not think it will be decisive in the Scottish Premiership title race. 

Celtic took the lead through Reo Hatate inside five minutes at an electric Parkhead on Wednesday and completely controlled the clash between the top two during the opening period. 

Hatate rifled in a brilliant second and two minutes later crossed for Liel Abada to make it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time. 

Rangers improved after the restart but were unable to stop their 21-game unbeaten run coming to an end, with Celtic replacing them at the Premiership summit and going a point clear. 

"It seemed like it was the first Old Firm game we'd played. We know what the Old Firm will bring, what we have to do … but it seemed like we weren't ready for it," Van Bronckhorst told Sky Sports. 

"You see the way we gave the goals away. It's the sharpness, I cannot say otherwise. It's not going with your man, not being ready for the battles. I think it was unbelievable the first half I saw. 

"I think our Old Firm game started in the second half. We were much better, much more aggressive and we played the second half really well. But in the first half we gave the game away. 

"It wasn't something I expected. When I see the trainings we had, the focus we had before the game, but when the whistle blew, we were just waiting for the goal to be scored. We were too naive and we deserved to be down 3-0 with the way we played. 

"We had an honest conversation in the locker room after the game.  

"We're not the first Rangers team to lose. I lost very big here as a player, but we eventually became champions that year. Of course, we wanted to win this game, but these games don't decide the championship. We still have many games to play and we have to be ready." 

The victory was Ange Postecoglou's first since taking charge of Celtic and ended a six-game winless run against Rangers in the league. 

The Australian was thoroughly impressed with how his team outplayed Rangers and believes there is still plenty more to come from the Bhoys. 

"Our first 45 minutes were outstanding; three great goals," Postecoglou told the BBC. 

"Our football was pretty special and their keeper pulled off some great saves. In the second half, we had to defend a bit more but we've been a team that can do that. It shows another layer. We knew the consequences, what it meant to our supporters, and we stood up. 

"Considering the context of the game and the opposition, I thought our football was outstanding. It's the kind of football team we want to be. It doesn't mean you disrespect or dismiss the opposition. We are still developing, but we want to take it to the opposition, and if we do that, we can take it to any opposition. 

"We've still got key players missing, very influential players. Some are just in the door. Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley have played fewer than five games. Our target was not top spot, our target is to win things, and if we're going to win things, we have to keep improving." 

Alfredo Morelos scored both goals as Rangers booked their place in the Europa League knockout stages with victory over Sparta Prague.

The Colombia international opened his group-stage account with a strike inside the opening quarter of an hour of Thursday's Group A contest.

He doubled the lead by capitalising on a huge defensive error early in the second half to give Giovanni van Bronckhorst a winning start at Ibrox and guarantee continental football in the New Year.

The hosts subsequently went second in Group A – three points ahead of Sparta – and progress to the knockout rounds at their opponents' expense with a superior head-to-head record.

Rangers made a strong start in the first match of Van Bronckhorst's reign, with Joe Aribo rattling the crossbar after a positive run by Ryan Kent.

And they took the lead in the 15th minute – Ianis Hagi stretching to help James Tavernier's pass into the path of Morelos, who confidently swept the ball home.

Hagi was involved again eight minutes later, but Aribo was unable to keep the ball down from his delicious cross.

Allan McGregor was then called into action at the other end with smart reflexes to deny Martin Minchev from close range.

Moreles doubled his and Rangers' tally four minutes into the second half and it was an absolute gift.

Filip Panak ludicrously opted to play the ball across his own penalty area, with the Colombian intercepting the attempted pass and heading into an empty net. 

Sparta had won six of their seven previous European matches against Scottish opposition, and looked to keep their hopes alive.

Although forcing McGregor into a wonderful double save later on, they rarely troubled Rangers, who condemned them to a ninth defeat in 11 away Europa League games.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has returned to Ibrox as the new manager of Rangers.

The former Netherlands international has been charged with replacing Steven Gerrard, who left the Scottish Premiership champions to take over as Aston Villa boss last week.

Van Bronckhorst won five trophies with the Glasgow giants in his playing days, including two league titles.

The 46-year-old masterminded Feyenoord's 2016-17 Eredivisie title triumph, while he also lifted the KNVB Cup twice and the Johan Cruyff Shield before taking charge of Chinese Super League club Guangzhou City last year.

Van Bronckhorst is relishing the challenge of winning more honours at Rangers.

The ex-Barcelona and Arsenal man will be fully in charge once he is granted a work permit.

"I am absolutely delighted to be returning to Rangers as the club's new manager," Van Bronckhorst told the Rangers official website.

"I feel so lucky to be going to work with a squad which is in a great position on all fronts and largely has that experience of being winners. I'm grateful for the chance to work again at this huge football club."

Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson revealed Van Bronckhorst had been earmarked as a potential replacement for Gerrard long before the Liverpool legend's departure.

He said: "I am delighted to welcome Gio back to Rangers. He was respected throughout Europe as a player and has already shown why he has that same respect as a coach.

"Gio has already shown himself to be a winner, he knows the club, he knows the quality of the squad and is absolutely aligned with our approach and mindset.

"Gio has been part of a long list of managers we have been tracking for a period of time to ensure we are always ready. When Steven intimated his decision last Wednesday, we immediately got to work on what was then a focused shortlist. We held initial talks within 48 hours and concluded our decision-making within six days of the role becoming available.

"We found agreement with Gio extremely quickly and we have enjoyed working with him on assembling the backroom team that will complement an already excellent support staff that we have built here at Rangers."

Raheem Sterling's future at Manchester City remains unclear.

The England winger has only made three Premier League starts this season.

Sterling, who starred during England's run to the Euro 2020 final, could now be on the move.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA RESOLUTE ON RAHEEM

Barcelona are determined to sign Raheem Sterling from Manchester City despite the Premier League club's refusal to let him leave, reports Manchester Evening News.

The Catalans want to bring Sterling to Camp Nou in January on a loan deal, with the forward open to a move after losing his regular starting spot at City.

Sterling still has 18 months remaining on his City contract and the English champions have no intention of accepting an offer for him.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City are set to launch a new bid for Tottenham forward Harry Kane in January, claims ESPN. City pursued Kane over the off-season but the Spurs skipper ultimately remained in London after Tottenham declined their approaches.

- El Nacional reports Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has told the club to sell or release Gareth Bale. The Wales forward has only made three appearances this term and is contracted to Los Blancos only until the end of the season.

Hakim Ziyech is unhappy at Chelsea and could be lured to Borussia Dortmund, claims The Mirror. The Morocco winger could move in January, having been unable to re-discover his best form at Chelsea after moving from Ajax in 2020.

Norwich City are set to offer ex-Aston Villa boss Dean Smith their vacant manager role, according to Sky Sports. Smith was sacked as Villa coach this week.

- The Daily Record claims former Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst will hold talks with Rangers about taking over as manager after Steven Gerrard's departure for Villa.

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