Alfredo Morelos: Rangers striker ‘up there’ as player of Europa League

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Borna Barisic's own goal knocked Rangers off top spot in Group G

Alfredo Morelos is “up there” as the player of the Europa League so far after firing Rangers into the last 32, says manager Steven Gerrard.

The Colombian rallied from his penalty miss in Sunday's League Cup final loss to Celtic by netting the opener in the 1-1 draw with Young Boys at Ibrox.

It was Morelos' 14th European goal of the campaign and he finished the group stage as top scorer with six.

“I had no doubt he was going to bounce back,” Gerrard said.

“I'm not surprised. People asked me about Alfredo yesterday, how he would be affected. He's a born goalscorer. He's a human being, some days he won't be able to be the hero.

“If he gets praise, he's right back on to perform. If he gets criticism, he tends to put it behind him and do his best for the team.

“He's got to be up there as player of the tournament so far. He's scored big goals against top opposition.”

Gerrard says his side were written off when the draw was made and praised their “incredible achievement” in advancing to post-Christmas European football for the first time in eight years.

They could have been out of sight after a convincing first-half display against Young Boys, with Morelos netting for the fifth successive group game to take his tally to 26 goals in 32 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, the Swiss champions finished strongly, forcing an equaliser through a late Borna Barisic own goal. That knocked Rangers – who had Ryan Jack red-carded in injury time – off the top of Group G but they clung on to progress as runners-up.

“I can't criticise the boys,” Gerrard said. “There's not a high level of European experience in the group. It's a fantastic feeling, especially after the last few days. It's been tough to pick ourselves up.

“No one gave us a chance. I sat in the canteen with the players and squad when the draw was made. Porto came out. A Champions League team. They'll beat Rangers. Feyenoord came out, people said what a group this is. No chance for Rangers.

“This is an incredible achievement when you think about where we were in July qualifying in Gibraltar. It was a tough group. To get out this group whatever way we did it is fantastic.”


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