Steven Gerrard: Rangers must ‘max-out’ away to Porto

Steven Gerrard: Rangers must ‘max-out’ away to Porto

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos

In-form Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos could be in for a “fascinating battle” with Pepe in Porto
Europa League: Porto v Rangers
Venue: Estadio Dragao Date: Thursday 24 October Time: 17:55 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online and follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website & app.

Manager Steven Gerrard believes Rangers can find a way to upset Porto in the Europa League if his players “max out” at the Estadio do Dragao.

Twice champions of Europe, the hosts reached the last eight of the Champions League last season but slipped up in qualifying this term.

All four sides in Group G are on three points after two matches.

“We have to find a performance that’s close to our best to take something, we are well aware of that,” said Gerrard.

“I don’t think this is an arena or fixture where you can come and perform below par. If we have got any ambition to take anything away from this, whether it’s a win or a point, we have to max out, that’s in and out of possession.

“But I have belief in the players that we can find that because coming to a place like this, an arena that has the wow factor, a pitch that’s perfect, against an opposition that all the players will have huge respect for, more often than not that’s when you can find your performance.”

Rangers wasted a good chance to top the group after conceding a soft stoppage-time goal against Young Boys in Switzerland and Gerrard hopes his side have learnt from that experience.

“It’s important we have that concentration and focus from start to finish because if anyone loses it, at this level you get punished,” he said. “Top players can always punish you.

“To be fair to the players, every challenge that has been put in front of them, certainly from a European point of view, they have done ever so well considering the time we have been together.”

Morelos v Pepe ‘a fascinating battle’

Alfredo Morelos is Rangers’ leading goalscorer this season, with nine of his 15 goals coming in Europe.

The Colombian striker may have to get the better of experienced defender Pepe if he is to add to that tally, with the 36-year-old back at Porto for a second spell.

“If Alfredo is selected to play it will be a fascinating battle,” Gerrard said. “Pepe has been a world-class player throughout his career, a very decorated individual who I have a lot of respect and admiration for.

“But Alfredo is in a good place, he is playing well, he is in good form and I’m sure he will be itching to start. I’m sure he will be looking forward to testing himself against the best.

“There will be a lot of really intriguing key battles across the pitch but I’m sure all eyes will be on that one.”