Rangers secured a seeded place in Monday’s Europa League last 32 draw as they beat Lech Poznan in Poland to win Group D.
Steven Gerrard’s side needed to match or better Benfica’s result to finish top, and goals by Cedric Itten and Ianis Hagi ensured they finished two points above the Portuguese side, who drew with Standard Liege.
Itten struck before half-time and Hagi nodded home on the goal-line after Connor Goldson’s header had bounced down off the crossbar.
As well as avoiding clubs dropping down from the Champions League in the next round, Rangers also collect a £900,000 bonus for winning their group on top of £515,000 for qualifying.
Midfielder Bongani Zungu was given his second Rangers start as Steven Gerrard made seven changes and the South African picked up an early booking.
Lubomir Satka headed over when he should have scored as Poznan threatened off a second ball at a corner.
Itten had a shot blocked by Jakub Kaminski moments before Kaminski’s dreadful touch was retrieved by the Swiss forward for the opening goal.
He took on Dorde Crnomarkovic in the inside right channel and beat goalkeeper Filip Bednarek at his near post.
Itten’s delightful touch then sent Hagi through, the Romanian’s shot deflected wide and Hagi’s next effort early in the second half was collected by Bednarek.
Jon McLaughlin was having a quiet night in goal for Rangers but made a fine save to turn Tymoteusz Puchacz’s free-kick wide.
And it was a set piece at the other end that gave Rangers some breathing space as Borna Barisic’s free-kick from the right was helped on to the bar by Goldson and Hagi made sure the bouncing ball crossed the line.
Hagi was in the mood and he tested Bednarek with a bending shot moments later.
Man of the match – Glen Kamara
What did we learn?
With so many changes, Rangers took a while to settle into the game but the new personnel were soon able to carry on the tactics and style Gerrard has used to great effect so far this season.
Itten and Hagi have had limited opportunities so far this season but both made their case for inclusion with goals and very good link-up play throughout.
Nathan Patterson, making a first start this campaign, has a job on his hand displacing captain and top scorer James Tavernier but the teenage right-back put in a solid showing before the Englishman took over for the final 25 minutes.
- Rangers are unbeaten in their past 10 Europa League group stage matches (W5 D5).
- In all competitions in 2020/21, they have won 22 and drawn four of their 26 games, keeping 20 clean sheets.
- Lech Poznan have lost six of their past seven matches in the Europa League.
- Itten scored his third Rangers goal in all competitions, with his other two both coming in the same game against Motherwell in September.
- Hagi has been involved in four goals in five Europa League starts for Rangers (3 goals, 1 assist).
What they said?
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: “I am super confident in the squad to make that amount of changes and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have trust and belief that we could go and keep the level that we have been showing in the previous 24 or 25 games.
“We are looking forward to the draw on Monday. We will need a bit of luck, of course we will. But when Europe comes around again in February time we will hopefully have a fit squad and if we do we will be a challenge for whoever we face.”
Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action on Sunday against Dundee United at Tannadice (12:00 GMT).
- 21SkorasSubstituted forSykoraat 12′minutesSubstituted forRamírez Fernándezat 64′minutes
- 25Amorim Pereira SilvaSubstituted forModerat 45′minutes
- 38KaminskiSubstituted forKravetsat 45′minutes
- 9IshakSubstituted forAwaedat 64′minutes
- 10Ramírez Fernández
- 16PattersonSubstituted forTavernierat 66′minutes
- 26BalogunBooked at 57minsSubstituted forBasseyat 81′minutes
- 15ZunguBooked at 7minsSubstituted forBarkerat 76′minutes
- 11IttenSubstituted forMorelosat 80′minutes
- 7HagiSubstituted forKentat 77′minutes
- José María Sánchez Martínez
Match ends, Lech Poznan 0, Rangers 2.
Second Half ends, Lech Poznan 0, Rangers 2.
Attempt missed. Vasyl Kravets (Lech Poznan) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).
Jakub Moder (Lech Poznan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alfredo Morelos (Rangers).
Vasyl Kravets (Lech Poznan) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Jakub Moder (Lech Poznan) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Vasyl Kravets.
Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Borna Barisic with a cross.
Attempt missed. Brandon Barker (Rangers) with an attempt from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross.
Substitution, Rangers. Calvin Bassey replaces Leon Balogun.
Substitution, Rangers. Alfredo Morelos replaces Cedric Itten.
Attempt missed. Scott Arfield (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joe Aribo with a cross.
Attempt missed. Connor Goldson (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a corner.
Substitution, Rangers. Ryan Kent replaces Ianis Hagi.
Substitution, Rangers. Brandon Barker replaces Bongani Zungu.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Filip Bednarek.
Attempt saved. Ianis Hagi (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Glen Kamara.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Djordje Crnomarkovic.
Attempt blocked. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott Arfield.