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Steven Gerrard kicks off Rangers reign with win

On-loan Liverpool midfielder Ovie Ejaria made his debut as Steven Gerrard led Rangers to victory in his first competitive game in charge on Thursday.

Gerrard left his role with the Reds’ U18s to take over at Ibrox in May, embarking on his first foray into senior management after a season back on Merseyside.

The 38-year-old took a bold step in crossing the border, and had less time to prepare as Rangers took on Macedonian outfit FC Shkupi in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.

He named ex-Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan as part of his starting lineup while Ejaria, who joined on a season-long loan in June, took up his place on the bench.

Scotland international Jamie Murphy opened the scoring on 23 minutes, after being found by Gerrard’s captain, James Tavernier.

Flanagan almost added an unlikely second with a wild, deflected cross, but Shkupi goalkeeper Suat Zendeli got across to make the save, denying the 25-year-old a dream debut at left-back.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard during the Europa League, Qualifying Round One, First Leg match at Ibrox, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Ejaria replaced fellow new signing Scott Arfield on 67 minutes and produced a bright cameo, with his quick feet troubling the visitors’ defence.

It came down to Murphy and Tavernier to seal the win, however, as the former turned provider when he was brought down in the box, with the latter stepping up to fire home and make it 2-0.

Rangers will now head to Macedonia on Tuesday evening looking to book their place in the next qualifying round.

There is certainly work for Gerrard to do based on his first game in charge, but with this clash coming in mid-July most of Rangers’ issues can be attributed to a lack of sharpness.

For Ejaria, the aim will be to secure a regular place in the first team in the near future, with his first 23 minutes on the pitch certainly encouraging.

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