The Ibrox side needed to beat Rapid Vienna in their final Group G clash if they were to follow Villarreal through to the knockout rounds. But a remarkable journey that started on 12 July as they were forced to battle through four qualifiers came to an end as Dejan Ljubicic’s late winner sealed a 1-0 win for the hosts at Allianz Stadion.
Rangers travelled to the Austrian capital without three key men – the injured Ryan Kent, suspended Daniel Candeias and “unsettled” Ovie Ejaria – and their lack of cutting edge in the final third was their undoing.
Gerrard said: “We’ve certainly been tested. As a group, we haven’t helped ourselves with certain situations and suspensions. Injuries have also bit at important times, like with Kent at the weekend.
“To not have Kent and Candeias available affects the group. So we haven’t helped ourselves throughout the campaign.
“In terms of numbers, I think we have had enough to cope. But to compete at this level, with ambitions to go further than the group, it’s obvious to me that the players need some help.
“That means obviously quality players that can come in and help.”
Rangers – cheered on by around 3,500 fans inside Rapid’s packed-out home ground, with thousands more watching on in the city centre bars – settled quicker than the hosts and almost grabbed the vital breakthrough midway through the first half as Connor Goldson headed against the bar.
But they found it harder after the interval and their adventure came to an end six minutes from time as substitute Ljubicic pounced.
“I thought we were good for 80 minutes,” said Gerrard. “I can’t really ask the players to give any more from what we had available tonight.
We gave an almighty effort.
“Obviously as the game was getting to the final stages we were trying to roll the dice and be more adventurous to try to create something.
“Unfortunately we’ve conceded a counter-attack but it’s very hard for me to criticise the players for what they gave.”