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EURO HAT-TRICK AS GERRARD STEPS UP PLAYER HUNT

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STEVEN GERRARD watched Rangers beat Galatasaray 2-1 at Ibrox last night to reach the Europa League group stages for the third successive year.

And the Liverpool legend is looking forward to the noon draw in Nyon, Switzerland today as he plots for the latter stages of the competition.

Goals from Scott Arfield and James Tarvenier shot down the Turklish aces in Glasgow and Gerrard, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “This is a fantastic night and the players are very happy in the dressing room, but I want to make sure we have good nights come May.

“European football is very important, but, for me, it is about success in May. However, if we keep performing like this and keep moving this group forward and adding the right players to it, then maybe we can.

“I told the players it is fantastic in Europe, but this club is built on success and that’s trophies. The expectation doesn’t change, but we take that and the challenge for me is can I get this team in the mix come May.

“They have big shoes to fill as so many fantastic teams in the past have been successful and that won’t change. We are aware of that and we will deal with it and take each game as it comes. The challenge for me is can I get this team in the mix come May.”

Gerrard is on the look-out for an extra midfielder and will now hope for a squad boost before Monday’s transfer deadline.

The Gers gaffer singled out Arfield for special praise this week after an impressive return to form and he repaid his manager’s confidence with the opener in only seven minutes while skipper Tavernier doubling the advantage just before the hour mark.

Visiting defender Marcao struck three minutes from time, but Fatih Terim’s men could not complete what would have been a dramatic late comeback to dent Gers’ impressive Europa League record of winning 19 qualifiers without losing a single leg.

The midday Europa League Group Stage draw will be set out thus:.

POT ONE: Celtic, Arsenal, Spurs, Roma, Napoli, Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen, Villarreal, CSKA Moscow, Sporting Braga, Gent, PSV Eindhoven.

 Dinamo Zagreb, Sparta Prague, Slavia Prague, Ludogorets Razgrad, Young Boys Berne, Red Star Belgrade, Rapid Vienna, Leicester, Qarabag, PAOK Salonika, Standard Liege, Granada.

POT THREE: RANGERS, Real Sociedad, AC Milan, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord, AEK Athens, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Molde, Hoffenheim, Hapoel Be’er Sheva, LASK Linz, CFR Cluj.

POT FOUR: Zorya Luhansk, Nice, Lille, Rijeka, Dundalk, Slovan Liberec, Royal Antwerp, Lech Poznan, Sivasspor, Wolfsberger, Omonia Nicosia, CSKA Sofia.

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Editor

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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