McAllister: Win over Braga will boost confidence in Rangers squad

Assistant manager Gary McAllister claims the Rangers players answered questions about their mentality with their dramatic fightback against Braga.

Rangers fought back from two goals down to take a first-leg advantage in the Europa League last 32 after hitting three goals in 15 minutes.

The comeback appeared even less likely on the back of a run which has seen Rangers drop eight Ladbrokes Premiership points since the winter break.

Boss Steven Gerrard admitted his side had failed to handle the pressure during a defeat at Kilmarnock last week and feared he had overestimated his squad’s mentality.

But McAllister feels the players can all take huge confidence from the way they kept going against the in-form Portuguese team.

“The players and all the staff have got to take the confidence from that because the last 25 minutes were very pleasing on the eye, some of the football was great,” he said ahead of Sunday’s encounter with St Johnstone.

“We were a real threat, very difficult to play against. We broke them down and created chances. Even though Braga were the better side in the first half, we still had three or four good chances.

“Maybe a little bit of confidence comes into play. We’ve got a few experienced players who have stood up in recent times, but we have a lot of young players.

“This is the first time they have been asked these sort of questions, playing in front of a very expectant crowd, the pressure of being at Rangers and having to win every game. A draw, two draws is a crisis.

“Being a Rangers player is something you have to actually deal with and this sort of result should boost the confidence.

“I would simply say, just look at the last 25 minutes, if you are questioning someone’s character, mentality, and togetherness. I think you saw it was there in abundance at the end of the game.”

However, McAllister admits it is not always so simple transferring their second-half performance into the league.

“If you repeated that level of performance and at the speed we played at in a domestic game then a domestic game should run out easy,” he said. “But that’s not the case. Every game is different.

“Last night was two teams trying to win. Sometimes that’s not the case. The questions that are asked of us are: can we break a low block? The games are very, very different and we have to adapt and get better.”

Ianis Hagi proved the hero with two goals and McAllister feels the on-loan Genk midfielder is in a good place.

“We just want to keep this young man going, keep his confidence high and keep encouraging him to do the things he is good at,” McAllister said.

“If you are a player that has scored a couple of goals in front of 50,000 fans who are singing your name, then I think you will enjoy it.

“He has settled in very quickly, that’s due to the fact he has been made very welcome. He comes in with a smile, which is always good to see in a young player.

“He is enjoying training, he is enjoying Glasgow, he is in a flat and settled very quickly. He has an eye for a goal, he has an eye for a pass.

“I thought for the first 20 minutes against Hibs in his first game, the physicality and nature of the game here, he found it quite hard. But since then he has adapted well.”

Meanwhile, left-back Borna Barisic will be monitored ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg in Portugal.

“He took a bad blow to the kidney so he needs a few days’ rest, so he is out for the weekend,” McAllister said. “We will need to monitor him but he was in a lot of pain.”