Three things we learned from Porto 1 - 1 Rangers

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Analysis of the big match in Porto as Steven Gerrard's side were able to hold to pre-match favourites to a battling 1-1 draw.

READ MORE - Porto 1 - 1 Rangers: Morelos strike earns Gerrard's side deserved point in Portugal
Rangers used their 4-3-3 to perfection

Rangers winger Brandon Barker in action during Thursday's Europa League clash.

Rangers winger Brandon Barker in action during Thursday's Europa League clash.

When a team plays a 4-3-3 formation you could often describe the system as a 4-5-1. Wingers are expected to both create in the final third and chase opposing full-backs down the flank. The perception on whether the system was typically one of attacking intent tends to depend on the final result: did they spend the majority of the match attacking or where they penned in their own half? 4-3-3 or 4-5-1?

Steven Gerrard did something different in Thursday's match. Though Rangers were sent out to be pragmatic and do what they could to stop Porto scoring, there was no doubt they were lining up in a 4-3-3. The job of Brandon Barker and Ryan Kent on the flanks was not to track the opposing full-back, but instead stay close to striker Alfredo Morelos when Rangers didn't have the ball, keeping a narrow shape.

The idea behind the design was to funnel Porto out to the flanks. It worked perfectly. With Filip Helander and Connor Goldson in strong form in the heart of defence, Porto were largely ineffective with crosses into the penalty area.

It worked so well that, eventually, Rangers became the dominant team and will ultimately harbour some regrets they didn't leave with all three points.

Barker over Ojo worked... probably

On paper, Sheyi Ojo was dropped for Ryan Kent as the latter started on the left. But with the £7 million summer signing always likely to start on his full return to fitness, in reality it was Brandon Barker who was preferred to the Liverpool loanee when Gerrard decided to also drop Scott Arfield and go with two out-and-out wide men.

Ojo has come under some criticism in recent weeks, especially after his anonymous performance at Tynecastle last Sunday. There's no doubt he's capable of some spectacular play - just look at his winner against Feyenoord - but he's guilty of making the wrong decision in the final third too often and has been accused of being too lackadaisical.

Barker certainly played with more intensity off the ball. He helped intercept passes higher up the pitch and Rangers were a stronger defensive collective for his inclusion. What he didn't have, though, was the same self-belief around the penalty area that Ojo typically shows.

All in all it probably worked as Rangers held their much-fancied opponents to one goal and a draw, though you can't help but wonder if Ojo would've been a better bet to produce a piece of magic to secure goal number two. It's a conundrum Gerrard will likely wrestle with throughout the season.

Jack showed mental toughness

The Rangers midfielder returned to the starting XI after missing the last two games with an injury picked up against Young Boys. He was excellent in the early going, setting the tone with real energy going up and down the park, finding team-mates and disrupting opponents. Then he had something of a mini-meltdown.

After being booked for a foul on the edge of the penalty area he then endured 15 minutes before half-time where everything seemed to go wrong. His poor pass out of defence led to the opening goal, he gave away another free-kick in a dangerous area and he generally played well below the standard of his opening half-hour.

Most players would let such a dip affect the rest of their game, either by denting their confidence or spurring them into trying too much. Instead, Jack composed himself and just went about his business. In the second half he was outstanding and a big reason Rangers looked every bit as good as their hosts as the game went on.

READ MORE - How the Rangers players rated during Europa League draw with Porto