Rangers step up Europa preparations with friendly win over TNS

Jamie Murphy was on target for Rangers in the closed-door friendly. Picture: SNS
Jamie Murphy was on target for Rangers in the closed-door friendly. Picture: SNS
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Rangers defeated Welsh champions The New Saints 3-1 in a closed-door friendly at the Hummel Training Centre in Glasgow as they stepped up preparations for next week’s Europa League opener against Macedonian side Shkupi.

Goals from Serge Atakayi, Jamie Murphy and Ross McCrorie earned the win for Steven Gerrard’s side after they fell behind to an early strike from TNS striker Dean Ebbe.

Gerrard fielded two completely different sets of outfield players in each half of the low-key 90 minutes yesterday afternoon.

Four of his new summer recruits – Nikola Katic, Connor Goldson, Jon Flanagan and Scott Arfield – all featured along with Murphy,
pictured, whose loan move from Brighton was made a 
permanent deal.

TNS, preparing for their own trip to Macedonia next week when they face Shkendija in a Champions League qualifier, took a first-minute lead when former Inverness man Ebbe beat Rangers goalkeeper Jak Alnwick from close range.

The home side equalised three minutes later through Atakayi, the 19-year-old Finnish youth international winger who was part of Gerrard’s squad during their training camp in Spain last week.

Rangers had the chance to take the lead before half-time but Andy Halliday saw a penalty kick saved by TNS goalkeeper Paul Harrison.

With Goldson, Flanagan, Arfield and Murphy all part of the second-half outfield line-up, Rangers took command. Murphy made it 2-1 with a precise shot which beat Harrison via the inside of his right-hand post, before McCrorie’s deflected effort wrapped up the win.

Rangers supporters will 
get their first chance to see Gerrard’s team in action when they play English League Two outfit Bury in a friendly at Ibrox on Friday night, before the competitive action begins with the first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round tie against Shkupi in Glasgow the following Thursday.