Gers de­fence play game of Rus­sian roulette and lose

Ger­rard laments lax back­line as de­feat blows group wide open

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - SPORT -


Rangers man­ager Steven Ger­rard blamed ba­sic de­fen­sive er­rors af­ter their un­beaten Eu­ro­pean record ended with a 4-3 de­feat by Spar­tak Moscow.

The Light Blues took the lead three times in the first half af­ter an early own goal and strikes from Daniel Can­deias and Glenn Mid­dle­ton, on his sec­ond start for the club.

But Rangers had been pegged back by a back­post header and a Con­nor Gold­son own goal, each time af­ter Jon Flana­gan had been caught out at left-back.

And they con­ceded twice in a minute just be­fore the hour mark, when Luiz Adri­ano headed home on the re­bound and Gold­son de­flected Sofi­ane Hanni’s strike past Allan Mc­Gre­gor.

It was a first de­feat in 12 Europa League matches un­der Ger­rard and saw Rangers slip from top of Group G back to third place.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult,” the Rangers boss said. “You saw the two sides of our per­for­mance.

“We at­tacked very well, we looked very dan­ger­ous and coun­tered very bravely and got our re­wards for that.

“We were in con­trol of the game un­til half­time but foot­ball is about lev­els and if you don’t de­fend prop­erly, if you don’t do the ba­sics well enough, high-level teams will pun­ish you and that was the case.

“We didn’t clear our lines at the right times, at times we weren’t in the right po­si­tions.

“Play­ers who have had a lot of praise, who have done very, very well to get us to this op­por­tu­nity, we just didn’t do the ba­sics well.

“The goals we con­ceded in the first half were noth­ing to do with tac­tics, they were to do with in­di­vid­ual ba­sic er­rors.

“The mes­sage at half­time was ‘it’s 3-2, if you de­fend bet­ter we ei­ther win the game or at worst case come away with some­thing’.

“But we had a ter­ri­ble five min­utes and were pun­ished for it.

“Nor­mally you come away to a place like this and get three goals, you ex­pect to at least get a re­sult.

“We should have had four goals but that’s an­other story. I’m bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with how we de­fended.”

Ger­rard was al­lud­ing to a dis­al­lowed goal by Light Blues striker Al­fredo More­los just be­fore half-time with Rangers 3-2 ahead, and re­plays sug­gested the Colom­bian was on­side.

When asked if it was a big de­ci­sion, Ger­rard said: “It is now of course and it’s dif­fi­cult as a man­ager to an­swer those ques­tions like that without say­ing the wrong thing and get­ting into big, big trou­ble.

“We lost the game be­cause of our­selves de­fen­sively but on an­other night we could have come away with a 4-4.”

Steven Ger­rard: Left to rue er­rors at the back

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