Bring on Van Nistelrooy! Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst is relishing his return to Holland in Champions League qualifying as second leg win sets up mouthwatering match-up against Ruud’s PSV
Giovanni van Bronckhorst insists he will relish a return to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven for a place in the Champions League after Rangers staged an historic comeback at Ibrox.
The Dutchman was full of pride for his players as goals from James Tavernier, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman wiped out the 2-0 advantage held by Union Saint-Gilloise amid an electrifying atmosphere.
It was the first time Rangers had ever recovered from that size of first-leg deficit in continental competition and set up a play-off round clash with PSV to land the £30million-plus group-stage windfall.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is excited at returning to Holland in Champions League qualifying
Victory on Thursday night means Van Bronckhorst’s team will face PSV in the play-off round
Managed by Van Bronckhorst’s former international team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Dutch powerhouse overcame Monaco in extra-time. They will now visit Glasgow for the first leg next Tuesday before the return match the following week.
‘It is familiar,’ smiled ex-Feyenoord boss Van Bronckhorst. ‘It is a familiar team for me. It’s great to see Ruud van Nistelrooy again and there will be so many familiar faces on the bench.
‘Fred Rutten, I was his assistant at Feyenoord a couple of years ago as well. Andre Ooijer is there, too.
‘It will be nice to be back in Holland for a couple of days after so many months in Glasgow.
‘We are going to prepare well. It is a big chance for us to take the last hurdle and be a team who can play Champions League this season.’
It will see Bronckhorst up against ex-Man United striker and PSV boss Ruud van Nistelrooy
James Tavernier (right) was among the scorers on the night at Ibrox to fire Rangers through
Rangers performed miserably against Union when losing 2-0 in Leuven seven days ago but dominated from the start on Tuesday night to complete an epic turnaround.
‘We needed a big performance,’ said Van Bronckhorst. ‘The pressure was on us, of course, because of the defeat we had last week.
‘We know we are capable of producing big nights but still you have to do it over and over again.
‘That’s why I’m so proud of my players and the way they played, with passion, with desire, with fire to go to the next round.’
The vital breakthrough arrived on the stroke of half-time when Siebe van der Heyden needlessly handled in the area. Tavernier swept home the penalty with typical aplomb despite opposition players doing their best to try and put him off.
‘He has a lot of character,’ said Van Bronckhorst of his captain. ‘He has shown that last season and all the seasons before.
‘He is the captain and in these moments you want your captain to step up and he did that today again.
‘It was an important moment to go 1-0 up just before half-time.’
Van Bronckhorst also praised Bayern Munich loanee Tillman, who was a persistent threat to Union and towered above goalkeeper Anthony Moris to nod in the decisive third goal in the 78th minute.
Rangers boss Van Bronckhorst needs to navigate a way past PSV to reach the group stages
‘Malik was very good in the game,’ added the Rangers manager.
‘So early in the season he has already become an important player for us.
‘The goalkeeper was surprised at the goal with his jumping. It was a big goal for Malik and a big moment for all of us.’
On loan from Bayern Munich, American international Tillman dedicated his first goal in a Rangers jersey to the supporters who had Ibrox rocking.
‘It was an amazing feeling,’ he said. ‘After the game last week, we needed the fans to be with us and a big game from ourselves. I think we did pretty well and we have to thank the fans for pushing us every minute and every second.’
Union ended with ten men after midfielder Lazare Amani was sent off for a second booking in stoppage time. Rangers feared something similar for James Sands earlier in the second half, only for Greek referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos to change his mind about another yellow card after consulting with his assistant.
Van Bronckhorst felt justice was certainly done after the highly controversial penalty decision given against Connor Goldson in the first leg.
‘We knew that last week it wasn’t a penalty,’ he added.
‘So that made it harder for us. Today, I am just happy with the decisions of the ref. They went in our favour.
Rangers’ Malik Tillman celebrates scoring their side’s third goal of the game in a 3-0 win
The striker climbed high above the goalkeeper to head home the winning goal for the Gers
‘There was one moment in the second half with James Sands when I thought: ‘This could be a very important moment for the game’. It was good for us that he didn’t give the yellow card.
‘We want to be in the Champions League. The desire to be in the Champions League? I saw that today in my players.’
Union coach Karel Geraerts blamed the failure to score a third goal in the first leg in Belgium for his team’s collapse at Ibrox.
Admitting his team were architects of their own downfall, a rueful Geraerts said: ‘It was lost last week for us because it was only 2-0 in the home game.
‘I think at that moment we played better and had chances to score a third goal. So we knew when we came to the away game in this great stadium with this magnificent crowd that it would be hard.
‘We were not blown away here, but we gave them some goals today and that’s the difference between us and a team like Rangers which has the experience.’