RANGERS boss Pedro Caixinha hailed Niko Kranjcar after the Croatian playmaker emerged from his eight-month injury hell.
The former Portsmouth, Tottenham and QPR midfielder ruptured knee ligaments on the eve of October’s Betfred Cup semi-final clash with Celtic.
But he showed no signs of rust as he produced a vintage display on his return against Europa League opponents Progres Niederkorn at Ibrox.
The Light Blues laboured to a 1-0 win as Kenny Miller grabbed the only goal of the first-leg qualifying tie.
But Portuguese boss Caixinha insists Kranjcar should be proud of his showing.
He said: “He’s a fantastic player, a playmaker, he’s someone that understands the game. With some freshness in the legs and some freshness in his decisions, we were producing some fantastic football.
“He knows how to play between lines, how to make the last pass, his delivery on set-pieces were great. So he needs to keep playing to get the rhythm.”
Rangers will have to hope their slender lead is enough to see them through Tuesday’s return leg at the Stade Josy Barthel.
But Caixinha is optimistic, saying: “We are building a team and we know it’s better to build with a small result but at the same time a win.
“We want to progress and keep going in this competition but, of course, in the second leg we need to do more and we want to keep going.”
Progres boss Paolo Amodio believes his side could yet spring a surprise after limiting the damage in Glasgow.
“We will do our best,” he said. “We will start with 0-0 next week and anything is possible in football.
“I think all the pressure is on Rangers to make sure they go through.
“They probably expected to win tonight by five or six goals and it’s not the case so anything could happen next week.”