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GERRARD URGES PLAYERS ‘TO PUT ON A SHOW’

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STEVEN GERRARD is urging his players “to put on a show” when they face Porto in the Europa League Group encounter at Ibrox this evening.

The Ibrox boss wants the team to enjoy the occasion and make home adavnatge count in their bid to reach the last-32 of the tournament next year.

Gerrard’s men had an impressive 1-1 draw in Portugal a fortnight ago after the Liverpool legend had insisted his team’s opponents were favourites to finish at the pinnacle of the section.

The gaffer, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “I don’t think the situation has changed just because of the 1-1 result.

“There will be huge pressure on Porto to win the game, there will be huge pressure on Porto to finish top of the group. I don’t think that’s going to change.

“But that doesn’t affect what we are going to do, we just need to focus on us.

“We don’t see it as pressure, we see it as an incredible opportunity to put on a show in front of our supporters. Obviously, the carrot to beat one of the big names in Europe is more exciting really rather than a burden.

“We know the challenge and the threat Porto carry. There’s an incredible amount of respect for the team who are coming.

“Having said that, they are coming to our place, which will be rocking. I’m sure the fans are really excited and ready to get behind the players.

RISE AND FALL…Rangers dangerman Alfredo Morelos in action in the 3-0 win over Hearts.

“The players, on the evidence of the last couple of days, look focused and ready.”

Gerrard added: “You are talking about a group of supporters that are up there with the best in the world.

“They thrive on and love European nights, especially when a big game is in town.

“You saw that in the Feyenoord game and over the 18 months I have been here, the fans have been incredible. But what I’d say is we need that plus more. I want to try and rev them up.

“So, the idea is always to try and be aggressive at home, but you have to do it with a certain level of control because you have to respect the quality and the dangers of the opposition and maybe take into consideration what their game plan might be.

“But we want to be on the front foot and get this crowd with us as early as we can because that’s when we feel we are at our best, when the place is pumping and all the players are playing on the front foot.

“We want to keep continuing to grow and improve and keep proving to people that we are a good team. If we can find the level of performance that we did away from home with our fans behind us, it gives us a good chance of getting a positive result.”

Rangers took three points in their only other encounter in Glasgow when Sheyi Ojo scored a spectacular early effort to down the Rotterdam outfit who have since parted company with manager Jaap Stam. Ex-Gers gaffer Dick Advocaat has agreed to take over for the remainder of the season.

All eyes will once again be on Colombian hitman Alfredo Morelos who has claimed 20 strikes this time out.

He scored in Switzerland where a stoppage-time effort gave Young Boys a 2-1 win and he was also on target against Porto a fortnight ago.

 

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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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