Rangers 1-12 for victory in Europa League opener
Ibrox clash a sell-out as Steven Gerrard launches new era
FK Shkupi v Rangers
BT Sport 1, 7.45pm Thursday
Steven Gerrard makes his competitive bow as boss of Rangers with his new side 1-12 shots to see off Macedonian outfit FC Shkupi in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie.
Punters who recall how the Gers were undone by Luxembourg lightweights Progres Niedercorn at this stage 12 months ago will doubtless steer clear, though they did at least win the home leg 1-0 before crashing 2-0 away.
Summer signings Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson, Scott Arfield and Jamie Murphy are all in the squad named by Gerrard, who won the Uefa Cup as well as the Champions League as a player with Liverpool.
Such is the fervour surrounding Gerrard’s arrival at Ibrox that incredibly, and even though the game is live on BT Sport, the match is a sell-out.
Shkupi, from Skopje, finished last season like a train. They brought in new coach Zekirija Ramadani in March and he presided over an eight-game unbeaten run to the end of the season to enable them to qualify for Europe for the first time.
Hibernian also play on Thursday, at home to Faroese minnows Runavik. Neil Lennon’s men are 1-10 shots.
Elsewhere, Kazakh football is on the up and Irtysh Pavlodar can fly the flag successfully in Lithuania at Trakai.
Irtysh’s league form is poor but they’ve been focusing on domestic and European cup commitments and with Brazilian striker Fonseca leading the line, they are going to be a threat.
Trakai ended the Lithuanian season poorly and struggled to see off Cefn Druids in the preliminary round. They are a month away from the resumption of their season and looked rusty against the Welshmen.
1pt 6-4 Betway
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