Steven Gerrard takes positives from Benfica draw despite losing two-goal lead

Steven Gerrard insists he is happy with a point against Benfica despite seeing Rangers throw away another two-goal lead.

The Ibrox side looked to be on course for a famous scalp in what would have been their 150th European win after Scott Arfield and Kemar Roofe fired the Light Blues ahead.

But just as they did in Lisbon three weeks ago, Gers failed to hold onto their lead and had to settle for a 2-2 draw as Goncalo Ramos and Pizzi struck in quick succession to leave Rangers sick again.

However, Gerrard’s team can still clinch qualification by beating Standard Liege when they visit Glasgow next Thursday.

And Gerrard admits he was satisfied with his team’s tally of eight points from the first four games.

“Yes, there’s disappointment,” he said. “But when you go over it as we did a couple of weeks ago, when the emotion settles, then I think it will be a positive result.

“I think over the 90 minutes it was a fair result, even at 2-0 I didn’t think we deserved to be two in front.

“I didn’t think we had full control of the game. But you have to remember we are playing a top team, they are not a Europa League team in my opinion.

“They are a Champions League team. They’re the fourth biggest spenders in world football.

“They have a great manager with a great pedigree so we have to be positive about the result.

“We would certainly have taken this position we are in now when the group started. Of course, at 2-0 up we are slightly disappointed that we didn’t get the qualification done.

“But we are playing against top players and a top team. Benfica found some weaknesses in our performance towards the end of the game when we tired and we paid for it.

“But I will certainly go away and take the positives from the two games against Benfica. For where we are as a team, for us to compete against Benfica over two games is a big positive for me.”

Gerrard – who was forced to leave out Joe Aribo with a stomach complaint – opted not to make any changes, even as his side flagged in the final stages.

Jorge Jesus’ substitutions by contrast made the difference as Ramos and Pizzi climbed off the bench to snatch a point.

Gerrard said: “What you have to commit to that game in terms of fitness and concentration levels, the leg work you have to put in – that’s what these top teams do to you.

“They work you from side to side and keep the intensity up for 90 minutes.

“Then when you make one or two small errors, they make you pay. That’s what they did.

“We had to empty the tank for 70-75 minutes and we tired as a group. That’s when we had a few complications. That’s a learning experience for us as a group.

“We don’t really play this kind of team domestically so we need to keep learning and growing, trying to add better players to our group, so in the future we become better and stronger towards the end of games at this level.

“Joe was unwell. He had a stomach complaint last night. Hopefully he will be available for the weekend.

“It’s important to say it is not Covid-related. He was negative on his test, before people start putting two and two together.”

Gers should have had a penalty when Jan Vertonghen handled a Roofe cross just before the striker rifled home another Euro special.

“It’s a penalty,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “It’s not annoying – it needs looking at. I can see it and I am further away than the official. It’s a clear penalty for everyone to see.

“It was a special goal from Kemar. He is in good form and is getting stronger.”

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