Steven Gerrard

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Gerrard’s Rangers clinch place in Europa League Round of 16

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Steven Gerrard put another bullet line on his managerial resume with a place in the Europa League Round of 16.

Rangers kept an away clean sheet at Sporting Braga to win 1-0 on Wednesday, 4-2 on aggregate.

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Former Liverpool youth Ryan Kent was the goal scorer, giving him 13 goals and 13 assists in his two seasons in Glasgow.

“This is no fluke,” Gerrard preened. “This has come from sheer hard graft. We knew there was an opportunity. We need to enjoy tonight. We’ll be really proud when the draw is made.”

Gerrard admitted that the goal was to cede possession to the hosts, but keep the ball with their back five. Braga had 69 percent of the ball and a 13-9 edge in shots, but Rangers put five of nine shots on target.

Rangers reach the Round of 16 for the first time since 2011, when it lost to PSV Eindhoven 1-0 over two legs. The last time it went farther was the 2008 UEFA Cup Final loss to Zenit Saint-Petersburg.

Rangers are 12 points off Celtic with a match-in-hand in the race for the Scottish Premiership. Celtic will bid to move to the Round of 16 when they host Copenhagen on Thursday following a 1-1 draw in Denmark.

Gerrard slams Rangers’ mentality as title hopes slip away

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The good news: Steven Gerrard appears set to take Rangers to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Scottish Premiership in his first two seasons in charge.

[ MORE: The race for Premier League promotion is red-hot ]

The bad news: While that’s an improvement on the back-to-back third-place finishes which preceded Gerrard’s appointment in the summer of 2018, the distance which Rangers still have to close between themselves and eight-time defending champions, and hated rivals, Celtic is still quite large.

As recently as Jan. 24, Rangers trailed Celtic by just two points and had a game in hand which could have sent them top of the league. Since that point, Rangers have dropped eight points from five games and trail by 10 points (still with a game in hand).

Gerrard is very displeased by these recent results and picked Wednesday, after losing 2-1 away to seventh-place Kilmarnock, to make it known — quotes from the BBC:

“I thought we had the mentality and the characters to sustain a push, but on the evidence of the last four to five weeks, I’m getting proven wrong.

“But having said that, it’s me as well because I’m responsible for that group of players.”

“Very, very tough. You’ve got to look at the form of other people that are relentless right now.

“But we keep going and try to change the situation that we put ourselves in. There’s no denying they’re obviously in the driving seat”

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal ]

Gerrard is widely perceived to have done well at Rangers, which will almost certainly lead to his name being linked with any mid-table-to-bottom-half Premier League jobs beginning either this summer or the next one. His window to unseat Celtic is probably small, as is that of Rangers based on the evidence of the last few weeks.

Transfer rumor roundup: Mari to Arsenal; Defoe makes permanent Rangers move

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League outfits.

[ MORE: Premier League January transfer needs ]

Arsenal are reportedly hours from adding a defender to Mikel Arteta‘s squad.

Flamengo’s Pablo Mari has reportedly arrived in London and set for a medical at Arsenal, Sky Sports reports. The 26-year-old Spaniard will join the North London side for the remainder of the season with an option to buy.

It won’t be Mari’s first time signing for a Premier League side, however.

In 2016, the center-back signed with Manchester City, but never featured for the defending champions, instead making appearances for Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna on loan.


Jermaine Defoe is not returning to Bournemouth.

On Saturday, Rangers announced that Defoe signed a pre-contract to join Rangers on permanent basis in the summer.

The storied 37-year-old English striker has 20 goals in 57 appearances since joining the Scottish giants last January on a 18-month loan. Defoe’s new contract runs through the 2020-21 season, a one-year deal.

“It’s fantastic news,” Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told the club’s website. “It’s something we have been working on over the weeks and it is great to finally get that done and dusted.”

“He is an incredible professional with the way he goes about his work on and off the pitch – he is a credit to himself and his family. And also on the pitch, which is the main thing. He is still contributing heavily – he is a major part of this group, this team and this squad and hopefully together we can go and share some success as I think he deserves that.”

This season, Defoe has scored 16 goals in 28 games.


Crystal Palace are in talks to sign Belgium international Yannick Carrasco, according to Sky Sports.

Carrasco, 26, wants to leave Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang and is currently training in Belgium, ahead of a return to European play.

Carrasco has scored 24 goals in 52 appearances since making a move to China from Atletico Madrid in February 2018.


Norwich City are actively pursuing Danel Sinani, according to the Daily Mail.

The 22-year-old Luxembourg winger is out of contract with Luxembourg side FC Dudelange this summer. If the parties involved can’t reach a deal this week,  the Canaries are reportedly ready to propose a pre-contract agreement.

Rangers beat Celtic to take charge of title race

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Rangers beat bitter rivals Celtic 2-1 in the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on Sunday as Steven Gerrard‘s side now have the chance to jump ahead of their Glasgow rivals and move to the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Rangers took the lead in the first half after Alan McGregor saved a penalty kick from Ryan Christie as Ryan Kent then made it 1-0 three minutes later, but Odsonne Edouard equalized for Celtic just before the break in a typically tight, feisty encounter.

Nikola Katic scored the winner for Rangers who had top goalscorer Alfredo Morales sent off late on, as Gerrard and his players celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

After losing the Scottish League Cup final in extra time to 10-man Celtic earlier this month after missing a penalty kick, this victory would have tasted sweet for Gerrard and Co.

Celtic have won the Scottish title for the last eight seasons on the trot but they are now two points ahead of Rangers but the latter have a game in hand.

Could this be the year Rangers finally break Celtic’s stranglehold on the Scottish title? The ‘Gers last won the title in 2011 and since then they’ve been relegated to the fourth tier, promoted back to the top-flight and now they seem to be serious contenders for Celtic.

With both teams in the knockout round of the UEFA Europa League in the second half of this season it will be intriguing to see who handles the domestic and European games better.

Gerrard extends contract amid strong start as Rangers boss

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Steven Gerrard is quite keen to stick around as Rangers boss following a strong start to his managerial career, leading the 39-year-old first-time manager to sign a two-year contract extension on Friday.

[ MORE: Ljungberg wants quick appointment of new Arsenal manager ]

With his current contract previously set to run through the 2021-22 season, Gerrard’s services have been secured until the summer of 2024.

Gerrard has been largely successful since taking over the Scottish Premiership side last summer, guiding Rangers to their highest points total (78) since returning to the first division in 2016, and a second-place finish (also for the first time) behind rivals Celtic. Rangers reached the Europa League’s round of 32 on Thursday, marking their first trip to the knockout round of European competition since 2011.

That much success so quickly will undoubtedly lead to Gerrard’s name being linked with increasingly large jobs in England, likely prompting Rangers to act preemptively.

“I’m delighted to be extending my stay at this fantastic football club. When the chairman approached me about the possibility of extending my contract with Rangers, it was a very easy decision to make because I’m very happy and feel that we are building something special together at the club.

“I’d like to thank the board for the backing they have given me already in my time at the club and also most importantly, the Rangers fans who have given me and the team such tremendous backing both this season and last.”