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My players showed Bayer Leverkusen too mush respect – Gerrard

by comsmedia

Steven Gerrard feels his side showed Bayer Leverkusen too much respect in the first half as they lost 3-1 in their Europa League last 16 first leg match.

Leverkusen took the lead from the penalty spot in the first halfg before doubling their lead after 67 minutes. George Edmundson headed in for Rangers before the Bundesliga side scored a third and took a massive advantage ahead of the return leg.

Gerrard praised the opposition but was unhappy with his side’s “passive” start to the game and rued poor defending as a team for the goal that made their task much harder.

“I think the scoreline is a tough one for us to take,” he said. “I think losing 3-1 at Ibrox is always going to be disappointing.

“You have to pay respect to the opposition, who are a good team. There’s a real good style about them and they have some high-class individuals.

“I thought we were too respectful in the first 45 minutes. We had a good shape about us and the organisation was good but we were passive and not aggressive enough.

“The second half was much more like what I was looking for. More front foot and we got some success and joy from that, created some decent opportunities but the second goal we conceded was a top-class finish. The third one I’m extremely disappointed with because we never defended that situation well at all.

“If the game finishes at 2-1 then it’s not the end of the world and you’ve a scoreline you can go fight on but 3-1 makes it that bit tougher. But we will go next week and give it our best shot and hopefully try to find a 90 minute performance and not just 45.”

The return match in Germany is scheduled to take place next week but behind closed doors. The rapidly-evolving coronavirus crisis has seen matches cancelled and leagues suspended in recent days and UEFA are to meet next week to decide on a response.

That could see the competition put on hold or cancelled but Gerrard said Rangers’ stance was to plan for the game to go ahead until they are told otherwise.

“At the moment we’re told that the game is going to go ahead and will be behind closed doors so we’ll do what we’re told, listen to UEFA and follow what we have to do,” he said.

“That’s not great. I don’t think any manager or player wants to take part in or even watch a sporting event that’s behind closed doors.

“I saw the Manchester United game today and it just didn’t feel right. But it is what it is. It’s disappointing.

“Thankfully the weekend’s game is going ahead, I’m told, with the crowd there. First things, first, we have to concentrate on that game.

“This fire is growing and continues to spread. I think the first thing has to be people’s health.

“But I’m hoping football can continue but first things first, everyone’s health is more important.”

As Rangers were playing, the SFA and SPFL issued a joint statement confirming that the weekend’s fixtures, including the Old Firm derby at Ibrox, would go ahead. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that from Monday, events attracting more than 500 people will be banned in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

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