Sheyi Ojo produced a moment of magic as Rangers beat Feyenoord 1-0 in a pulsating Europa League Group G opener at Ibrox.
The death of the former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen on Wednesday at the age of 43 following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease made it an emotional night in Govan.
Steven Gerrard's side evoked the spirit of the Dutchman against the side from the Netherlands and after skipper James Tavernier had struck the outside of the post with a penalty, Ojo fired in a glorious drive from 20 yards in the 24th minute for what proved to be the winner.
The Rotterdam side threatened in a more even second half and might have snatched a point although the hosts had chances to score more.
Rangers' fitting tribute to Ricksen
Sky Sports News reporter Luke Shanley: Rangers give Fernando Ricksen a fitting tribute on an emotional night at Ibrox
How Rangers sealed victory
Indeed, Rangers boss Gerrard will probably believe the game should have been over by the interval, such was his side’s superiority in the first 45 minutes. He made four changes to his side with defenders Filip Helander and Borna Barisic and midfield duo Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack coming back into the side.
However, after a minute’s silence before the game in tribute to Ricksen, it was the Dutch side who started better with efforts from Steven Berghuis and Orkun Kokcu but the game then turned.
In the ninth minute Feyenoord defender Edgar Ie conceded a penalty when he handled inside the box as the Dutch side failed to clear a Barasic corner.
Tavernier hit the outside of the post with his right-footed effort but Rangers refused to let that dishearten them and kept pressing.
In the 19th minute midfielder Scott Arfield took a pass from Kamara and struck the top of the post with a left-footed drive and this time the ball flew across the goal.
However, Feyenoord could not keep the rampant home side at bay and in the 24th minute, after Barisic had won the ball against Rick Karsdorp in a 50-50 tackle, Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, picked up the loose ball and drove a glorious left-footed shot from 20 yards past Kenneth Vermeer for a deserved opener.
Feyenoord were rattled as Ibrox rocked. Vermeer made a fine double save from Gers striker Alfredo Morelos who was then booked for a late challenge on the keeper, before Ojo’s attempt from 12 yards was deflected past for a corner which Connor Goldson headed over.
Feyenoord, on the ropes before the break, forced several corners at the start of the second half with Allan McGregor diving to beat away an effort from Berghuis.
In the 70th minute Arfield headed a Tavernier cross over the bar from eight yards and then Jack miscued after being brilliantly set up by Alfredo Morelos but the side from Rotterdam kept pressing for the leveller with McGregor called into action as he pushed away a strike from substitute Luciano Narsingh following a swift counter.
However, the home side held out for three hard-earned points and Ricksen, who battled his debilitating illness with bravery and dignity, would surely have approved of their performance.
What Gerrard said
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: "We gave the supporters a performance to be proud of.
"It has been an emotional 24 hours for everyone connected with the club so that put more pressure on the players.
"Everyone was looking for that performance for Fernando's young family to be proud of and thankfully we got the win.
"I thought my players were outstanding, especially the first half. We carried the game plan out really well, to be aggressive, press on the front foot and try to take them to a place they are not used to going from a domestic point of view.
"I was slightly disappointed not to go in at the break further in front. Feyenoord improved in the second half but over the course of the 90 minutes I don't think anyone can take the three points away from us, we deserved it, the fans were fantastic. It was very fitting."
- Rangers haven't lost any of their last 14 home games across all European competitions (W10 D4, including qualifiers), winning each of the last five in a row.
- Rangers picked up their first win against Dutch opposition in European competition since October 1999 (4-1 vs PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League) - they were winless in the previous five such games before tonight (D2 L3).
- Feyenoord have only won one of their last 11 away games across all European competitions (D3 L7), with their only clean sheet in this run coming at Hapoel Be'er Sheva (3-0 in a Europa League qualifier last month).
- Sheyi Ojo scored his fifth goal of the season for Rangers across all competitions, with four of his five goals coming in European competition (including qualifiers).
- James Tavernier's penalty miss was the first by a Rangers player across the Europa League and Champions League since Steven Davis in October 2009 (vs Unirea Urziceni).