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 manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst emphasised that the job is not done after his side’s commanding 3-0 home win in the first leg of its Europa League last-16 tie against Red Star Belgrade.

Van Bronckhorst heaped praise on his side’s defensive structure and adaptability through the midfield, after a game that saw three Red Star goals disallowed,

"The midfield was key today because we had to change our defensive shape sometimes,” van Bronckhorst said at the post-game news conference. 

"John [Lundstram] had a really good part in that in making sure we put on pressure really early, and sometimes you need to drop into the back five. 

"I think we were very good on the ball to create chances, and I am more than happy with the result today.”

While he was more than content with his side’s showing, van Bronckhorst acknowledged the unpredictable nature of Europa League football, and anticipated a high-pressure clash when Rangers travel to Belgrade for the second leg.

"I think that [Red Star] are very strong – they are here for a reason," he said. "I'm happy with the result, but this tie isn’t over yet. 

"There are many goals in this competition, so to score three against Red Star is a great performance, but as I said when we played Dortmund away, we are only half way. 

"The key in Europe against really tough sides, you have to be dynamic and versatile in the shapes that you play – that’s what I told the players as well.

"If we wanted to go through to the next round, we had to make sure we were ready to make changes.

"I'm really happy to go to Belgrade next week, it’s going to be very hard, but we have a three-goal difference with us. This tie isn’t over yet.

"We have to be ready, but we will park Europe at the moment, and we'll work and prepare ourselves for Dundee on Sunday."

Barcelona will face Galatasaray in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Xavi's side were 4-2 winners on aggregate over Napoli in the round of 32 after dropping into the competition from the Champions League.

They will now meet the Turkish Super Lig giants, with the first leg at Camp Nou to be played on March 10.

Sevilla, winners of a record six trophies, will face David Moyes' West Ham, while rivals Real Betis will play Eintracht Frankfurt.

Rangers, who shocked Borussia Dortmund in the previous round, take on Red Star and RB Leipzig will play Spartak Moscow. Spartak's home leg must be played at a neutral venue due to the military invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The first legs will be played on March 10, with the exception of Porto versus Lyon and Betis' game with Frankfurt, which will be held a day earlier. The second legs are a week later.

Europa League last 16:

Rangers v Red Star
Braga v Monaco
Porto v Lyon
Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen
Sevilla v West Ham
Barcelona v Galatasaray
RB Leipzig v Spartak Moscow
Real Betis v Eintracht Frankfurt

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.