Rangers manager Steven Gerrard tempered his frustration at failure to beat Spartak Moscow at Ibrox with satisfaction at holding on to top spot in Group G of the Europa League.
The goalless draw against the Russian side allowed top seeds Villarreal to draw level with Rangers on points as they crushed Rapid Vienna 5-0.
Rangers still lead the group courtesy of their head-to-head record with Villarreal after the sides drew 2-2 in Spain on matchday one.
Gerrard was determined to accentuate the positives on a night which saw Rangers set a new record of 11 consecutive European games unbeaten in a single season.
“I would certainly have signed for being top of the group at this stage,” said Gerrard. “I would have signed up for that on day one in this job in June. We have got five points alongside Villarreal and three games to go so there are a lot of hard work and big challenges ahead.
“The job has become a little bit more difficult because we never got the breakthrough tonight. I understand that. But there is still loads of football to play and big games for the players to play in and me to coach in. I am really excited going forward.
“I feel very proud of the team in general and to find out yesterday that, if we avoided defeat, we created a bit of history, that is always a bonus as far as I am concerned. It is a nice thing for people to talk about but our focus now shifts swiftly to the League Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at the weekend, which is a huge game. But the players certainly deserve praise having come from where they were last year, losing in the first qualifying round against a team from Luxembourg. We have come on leaps and bounds.
“Yes, the players are disappointed in there tonight that they didn’t take maximum points, so that’s a positive for me. It does show how far we’ve come. But we can’t expect to win every single game, we can’t expect to blow teams away, especially teams of Spartak’s calibre.
“It was just that little bit of magic or last bit of quality we needed. We did enough to marginally win the game maybe. We played very well for 45 minutes. We lost control for 10 or 15 minutes in the second half.
“We kept winning the ball back and, instead of making four or five passes, we gave it back to them and lost our shape and our way. Then we came strong into the game again for the final part. We always felt our fitness might be the difference in the final stages.
“We asked them at half-time if they could create that moment which gives us the breakthrough. We created the moment but just couldn’t finish it off.”