Four things we learned from Rangers 2 - 0 Porto in the Europa League

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Analysis from Ibrox as Steven Gerrard's men defeated Portuguese giants Porto.

READ MORE - Rangers 2 - 0 Porto: Alfredo Morelos excels as Gerrard's men see off Portuguese giants with fantastic win
Porto threw a curveball

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos celebrates after giving Rangers the lead. Picture: SNS

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos celebrates after giving Rangers the lead. Picture: SNS

Rangers started in the same system that had worked so effectively in Portugal two weeks ago, which was probably to be expected. The narrow 4-3-3 enabled them to stand toe-to-toe with a side that had reached the Champions League qualifiers last season, and on their own patch no less.

It is perhaps a testament to how well the visitors played on their trip to the Iberian Peninsula that it was Porto who decided to mix things up for the return game. Switching from a 4-2-3-1, Sérgio Conceição's men instead started in a 5-3-2 that would become a 3-4-3 when they pushed forward. This helped the away side use the width of the pitch to its fullest and they had Rangers chasing shadows during the opening exchanges.

Intensity is everything

Managers can work on shape, they can meticulously scout the opposition, structures can be laid in place to succeed, but if the players don't rise to the occasion then it counts for little.

In the first 45 minutes the action swung depending on which side wanted it more. Having put in such a flat performance at the Estádio do Dragão, Porto took to the Ibrox pitch with a point to prove. They moved the ball quickly, sharply and, most importantly, they refused to give their opponents any time on the ball.

The home side managed to ride out this shaky opening 20 minutes and eventually rose to the challenge of meeting Porto's vigour. There was a extra force in every tackle, while each player moved just that little bit faster to get to the ball whenever it was up for grabs. Once that happened, the tide started to change.

Morelos didn't get much service... until he did

The Colombian cut a frustrated figure for the first 69 minutes, even by his own pouting standards. He was doing his usual tearing around the final third, but opportunities weren't coming his way. That was because, while their work rate could not be questioned, there was a bit of quality lacking with the final ball from those tasked with supplying the central striker. Then, within the space of four minutes, he got a double helping of what he'd been crying out for.

It started when Ryan Jack picked his team-mate out with a calmly clipped cross from the wing and Morelos brought the capacity crowd to their feet.

It was then the turn of Morelos to provide. Too often in the first period there were crossing opportunities for Rangers but a lack of bodies to hit. On this occasion the Colombian found scores of blue shirts charging into the box, but he showed poise and guile to go instead for Steven Davis arriving on the edge of the area. When the midfielder's shot was deflected past the goalkeeper it was game over.

Scottish football is back, baby!

When Steven Gerrard walked through the door at Ibrox 17 months ago the thought of two Scottish teams playing in European football beyond Christmas was so laughable it barely deserved more than a second's consideration. Yet here we are, with Celtic having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League and Rangers one victory from their final two games (or two draws) away from joining them. A second Champions League place in the not-so-distant future doesn't sound too unrealistic either.