Rangers 1-1 Blackburn: Filip Helander makes debut as Gers held by Rovers

Jermain Defoe gets on the end of Jordan Jones' cross to put Rangers in front
Jermain Defoe gets on the end of Jordan Jones' cross to put Rangers in front
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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard warned his players to wipe out some familiar traits following a 1-1 friendly draw with Blackburn in front of a crowd of just under 19,000 at Ibrox.




Jermain Defoe gave the hosts a deserved lead after half an hour, but the Light Blues were unable to make their dominance count, and Rovers hit back midway through the second period to earn a share of the spoils in Govan.

Gerrard selected a strong starting XI, with recent arrival George Edmundson handed a start in central defence.

Borna Barisic, linked last week with French side Dijon, continued at left-back while Defoe was preferred up front to Alfredo Morelos. Summer signings Jordan Jones and Sheyi Ojo started on the wings, but Portuguese wideman Daniel Candeias was omitted from the squad with the former Porto youngster in talks over a move to Turkey.

The visitors, managed by former Celtic captain Tony Mowbray and skippered by another Parkhead alumnus in Charlie Mulgrew, had their chances in a lively opening spell, with a Bradley Dack effort blocked and Allan McGregor saving well from Darragh Lenihan.

At the other end, Ojo and Scott Arfield went close for the hosts before Jones delivered a cross into the box that Defoe powered past Rovers 'keeper Jason Leutwiler.

But that goal was all Rangers had to show for a dominant hour before making four changes, and they soon conceded an equaliser after losing possession deep inside their own half, with Rovers midfielder Lewis Travis sweeping home from close range.

Substitute Morelos had the ball in the back of the net with seconds remaining but the Colombian's strike was ruled out by an offside flag, with Gerrard frustrated by his team's lack of killer instinct in the final third.

He said: "We had enough chances to win the game. We were very comfortable first half and even started the second half pretty well.

"Making the substitutions, we lost a bit of organisation and shape and we turned the ball over in a crucial area of the pitch and paid for it.

"We need to be more ruthless in front of goal and kill teams off when we're on top. Pre-season has been good so far but it shows we still need to learn and improve."

Asked about Helander's debut after the match, Gerrard told Rangers' website: "I thought he handled his debut pretty well, but he is still three weeks behind the boys, so we will keep pushing him and by the time he is fit and ready, he will know the philosophy more and he will know how we want to play.”

Meanwhile, Gerrard confirmed Candeias is closer to an Ibrox exit after the winger travelled to Ankara for talks with newly-promoted Super Lig side Genclerbirligi.

"He's gone over to have the discussions and do whatever else you do when you move clubs but I haven't got an update," Gerrard added.

Meanwhile, Mowbray felt the fixture had been the "perfect game" for the Ewood Park side, adding: "Rangers were good with the ball, especially in the first half. Their shape was good, they are a well coached team and they have good players. It was certainly a good workout for us."

Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Edmundson (Helander 60), Katic, Barisic; Jack (Docherty 85), Arfield (Kamara 60), Davis (Aribo 60), Ojo, Jones (Murphy 75); Defoe (Morelos 60). Subs not used: Firth, Polster, Halliday, Stewart.
Blackburn: Leutwiler; Bennett, Lenihan, Mulgrew (Butterworth 75), Bell (Buckley 62); Johnson (Smallwood 75), Downing (Hart 77), Evans (Travis 46); Armstrong (Nyambe 75), Dack (Rothwell 62), Graham (Brereton 62). Subs not used: Fisher, Grayson, Magloire.
Referee: Don Robertson

Filip Helander in action on his debut for Rangers

Filip Helander in action on his debut for Rangers