Steven Gerrard rues ‘killer’ third goal after Rangers’ defeat by Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen players celebrate their 3-1 win over Rangers in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie at Ibrox. Picture: SNSBayer Leverkusen players celebrate their 3-1 win over Rangers in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie at Ibrox. Picture: SNS
Bayer Leverkusen players celebrate their 3-1 win over Rangers in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie at Ibrox. Picture: SNS | 2020 SNS Group
Steven Gerrard believes Bayer Leverkusen’s late third goal at Ibrox has probably ended Rangers’ hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

A spirited second-half display by Gerrard’s side helped them reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the first leg of the last -16 tie before substitute Leon Bailey’s 88th minute strike put Leverkusen in firm 
control.

Uncertainty remains over next week’s second leg in Germany, currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Leverkusen are now odds-on favourites to progress whenever the tie is completed.

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“We did ever so well 
to get back into the game,” said Gerrard after suffering his first defeat in 16 Europa League home matches as Rangers manager.

“At 2-1, it’s not the end of the world, it’s a scoreline you can fight for (in the second leg),” added Gerrard.

“The third goal does (feel like a killer). I’m disappointed with that one. We didn’t defend it very well.

“We will give it our best

shot in the second leg and hopefully find a 90-minute performance, rather than a 45-minute one.

“We were too respectful in the first half tonight. We had a good shape but were passive in that shape, not aggressive enough.

“I got what I wanted in the second half, forced Leverkusen into areas and got some success.

“We had a top team and some top players rattled and the crowd came with us. But we are where we are in the Europa League – I can’t criticise the players for the journey they have taken us on. We matched Leverkusen for a lot of the game.

“The scoreline is a tough one for us to take but you have to pay respect to the opposition who played a good style and have some real high-class individuals.”

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Gerrard admits to reservations about the staging of next week’s second leg in front of an empty stadium.

“At the moment, we’re told it is going ahead behind closed doors,” he added.

“That’s not great – no player or manager wants that. I don’t think anyone wants to see the remainder of both European competitions behind closed doors or to see teams pull out.

“But I’m not going to sit here after a 3-1 defeat and say the tournament should be cancelled. That’s not the right thing to say. I’m not sure if it’s affected the players. If they’re like me, you go day by day, listen to the news, follow the instructions of medical people.

“This is not the ideal situation for anyone. We’ve all got our concerns, family concerns, waiting to find out if games are going ahead, if leagues are going to continue,

“Everyone is just waiting to see how much this is going to grow and how long it’s going to continue for. I’m hoping that football continues. But first things first – people’s health.”

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