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Sir Kenny Dalglish: Leverkusen will provide tough opposition. Rangers would have preferred drawing FC Copenhagen

© Alan Harvey / SNS GroupIt was Europa League delight for Steven Gerrard in midweek
It was Europa League delight for Steven Gerrard in midweek

The Europa League draw could have been a wee bit kinder to Rangers but they would much rather be involved than sitting in the house on March 12th and 19th watching it all unfold on the telly.

When you get to the last-16 of any major competition, there will never be an easy tie, and Bayer Leverkusen will most definitely provide tough opposition.

Steven Gerrard and his players will embrace the challenge and give their all to cause an upset and qualify for the quarter-finals. But I suppose they would have preferred drawing FC Copenhagen.

I think the Danish side would have been the perfect opponents as Celtic created plenty of chances against them in the last round. Neil Lennon will still be feeling the disappointment of being knocked out.

Listen, when a team of the quality of a PSG or Barcelona gives you a going over then you can accept that there is a gulf in quality and you hold your hands up.

But when FC Copenhagen see you off, then there will be mostly a feeling of regret and a missed opportunity. I really thought Celtic would go through.

When you analyse both legs that Rangers and Celtic faced there was a similar pattern to them. Braga and Celtic both started brightly and took the lead.

The Portuguese could have been three up after an hour at Ibrox, and Celtic could have had a similar goals advantage in Denmark in the first half. But neither managed to see out the job over the two legs.

Rangers ended up overcoming a difficult deficit to win with a bit to spare. They deserve enormous credit for that, especially after recovering from the blow of missing a penalty just before the interval in the second leg.

Ryan Kent scored the winner in Braga, and it was a wonderfully-taken goal.

He received a lovely pass from Ianis Hagi to exploit the high defensive line of their opponents and his confident first touch and expert execution put Rangers on their way.

Kent has quite rightly been praised for his contribution in the final third. But he also worked hard defensively to keep Braga at bay.

Indeed, every Rangers player played well. You cannot win at that level, especially away from home, when everyone is not on top of their game at crucial moments.

George Edmundson absolutely typified that with a solid display.

He kept it simple and played to his limitations. And I mean that as a compliment.

I believe he cost in the region of £700,000 from Oldham Athletic last summer. Well, he paid back every penny of that transfer fee last Wednesday night with his stunning performance.

At just 22, it is clear he has a bright future and could go on to become a big, big player for Rangers. Steven must be delighted at the progress the youngster has made.

So, over the piece, Rangers deserved to go through.

And to do it on the back of a disappointing 2-2 draw at St Johnstone last Sunday afternoon also makes it all the more special.

They now just have to find a level of consistency in their game that has been missing since the turn of the year.

It is clear from their European displays that there are plenty of guts and ability in the Rangers team. They just need to combine the two more often.

There is a chance for them to put Europe to one side and they will concentrate more on Bayer Leverkusen nearer the time.

The first game is at Ibrox so taking any kind of lead over to Germany would be brilliant.

Also, being at home first will work for Rangers. That’s the way I would have wanted it.

Before the first leg, they have league games to play and it’s important they collect maximum points ahead of the game against Celtic in the middle of the month.

Celtic now only have domestic football to concentrate on and that may well suit them. They must now not lose focus and keep a clear mind for the last 10 or 12 games of the season.

They face St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup this afternoon and that will present a tough challenge.

Tommy Wright’s team have a bit about them and they are playing with confidence. They showed last week against Rangers that they are capable creating chances. You need to play well to beat them.

The McDiarmid Park surface is also not the best and that will add to the challenge faced by Neil and his players. But to win the last 10 domestic trophies means you have a squad capable of overcoming many different challenges.

That’s why I expect Celtic to see the defeat on Thursday night in a positive way and bounce back to go into the semi-final draw tonight. Anything other than that would be a major shock.

The sights of everyone at Celtic will now be firmly set on making it four domestic Trebles-in-a-row.

It will not be easy. But it will take a special team to stop them from cleaning up again.