Rangers have successfully negotiated their long awaited return to European football with a victory and clean sheet against a fairly impressive set of part-timers from Luxembourg. Despite having never previously won a game at European level, Progrés appeared well organised and seemed quite content to only concede one goal at Ibrox.
Throughout the first half Rangers were as dominant with possession as you would expect, with Ryan Jack showing the Ibrox faithful exactly what to expect from him this coming season. Jack's sense of urgency when receiving and playing the ball was hugely refreshing. The new Rangers number 8 made it clear that he can dominate in the tackle too; he's probably everything that we ever wanted Andy Halliday to be in the holding midfield position.
If a constructive criticism could be offered for Jack it would be regarding his support in attack. There were a few occasions when he perhaps arrived too early from a deeper position, meaning possession was lost on the edge of the box, when he could have been taking a shot from distance instead. Overall, however, he was very impressive.
Fabio Cardoso continued the bright start to his Rangers career. Partnered by David Bates, Cardoso was rarely tested and generally very good in possession. There were a few small errors, but nothing that led to any real danger. As stated previously, when partnered with Bruno Alves, these small errors should begin to disappear. Granted, Progrés have only scored 1 goal in their previous 12 games in European competition, so you would probably not expect a player of Cardoso's calibre to come under much pressure.
Now, on to Dalcio. The headline for this opinion piece may be a tad unfair on Dalcio, but if you can provide me with one example of an end-product from the entire 90 minutes he played against Neiderkorn, I'd happily change it. Despite finding himself in good positions after making dangerous runs down either flank, the young Portuguese winger either dithered, was bowled over, or when he did cross, nothing was ever going to come from it.
If there were 10 opportunities to cross, shoot or play a decisive pass, Dalcio failed to deliver any of them. You could argue it is very early in his Rangers career, but Pedro Caixinha has given him plenty of game time thus far. If you were to compare his contribution to that of Daniel Candeias, he was pretty disappointing. Like we said, if you think we am being too harsh, please contact The Rangers Observer on Twitter or Facebook and point out any example of Dalcio delivering an end-product?
Candeias came on to the left flank with around 30 minutes to play and he was able to cause the full-back numerous problems with excellent pace over the first 10 metres. The Portuguese attacker once again demonstrated his highly dangerous ability to whip in a cross. Sadly tonight, there was no one there to meet it, but we should hope that Candeias will have earned a starting place from this display. He should certainly be starting ahead of Dalcio, moving forward (as long as Dalcio hasn't been signed with a condition that he plays when available).
Alfredo Morelos also made his debut as a substitute, but it was probably too late an appearance to be able make an impact on proceedings on this occasion. The opposition had already retreated deep into their own half by this time and were definitely time wasting. Shortly after Morelos got on, Progrés replaced their number 10 with another defender, so the little Colombian was very much up against it for space to move in to.
Overall, probably mixed emotions for most Rangers supporters after watching that. Obviously everyone is delighted that Rangers are back playing in Europe, albeit qualifiers. But as far as the performance goes, at least we didn't concede a goal.
There's a lot of work still to be done, if Rangers are to make it through to the next round, as expected.