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GERRARD HAILS ‘FITTING’ TRIBUTE TO FERNANDO

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STEVEN GERRARD hailed Rangers’ 1-0 Europa League opening victory over Feyenoord as a fitting tribute to Fernando Ricksen.

The Gers boss saw his players rise to the occasion at an emotionally-charged Ibrox just 24 hours after the tragic death of the club’s former captain at the age of 43 following a six-year battle against Motor Neurone Disease.

Sheyi Ojo got the only goal of a tense encounter with an explosive drive from outside the box in a first-half that saw James Tavernier wallop a penalty-kick off the post.

Gerrard, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I think we gave the supporters a performance to be proud of.

“It’s been an emotional 24 hours for everyone connected with the club, which put more pressure on the players.

“Everybody was looking for that performance for Fernando’s young family to be proud of.

“And, thankfully, we got the win and I thought my players were outstanding, especially in the first-half when we carried the game plan out very well.

“The idea was to play with energy and really press on the front-foot and be aggressive by taking Feyenoord to a place they’re maybe not used to going.

“I thought that worked very well until half-time and I was slightly disappointed not to go in at the break slightly further in front. They improved in the second-half and kept the ball a lot better. When we won it back we kept giving it back to them, so we didn’t get much chance to breathe.

“But I think over the course of the 90 minutes no-one can take the three points away from us.

“But I just think, overall, it’s very fitting.”

Gerrard admitted he is delighted at the way matchwinner Ojo is settling in at Ibrox after his summer loan switch from Liverpool.

The Ibrox added: “Should have scored two, that’s what I will be saying to him.

“Listen, this is Sheyi. He provides big moments at important times, he’s a goalscorer.

“He is not going to be this polished player where everything is perfect.

“He is going to make mistakes along the way. He is still young, still learning the game – but the reason I brought Sheyi in was to make a difference in the final third.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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