Gerrard must lift players after agony of Betfred Cup defeat

Steven Gerrard faces the tough task of lifting his players after the agonising 1-0 defeat to Celtic in the Betfred Cup final.

Celtic won with a goal from Christopher Jullien but had Alfredo Morelos converted from the penalty spot things might have been different.

Celtic had to play with 10 men for the last 27 minutes after Jeremie Frimpong was sent off for his part in the incident which saw Rangers awarded the penalty which was saved by Fraser Forster.

Rangers have no time to feel sorry for themselves with a place in the Europa League’s last 32 hinging on Thursday’s Ibrox clash with Young Boys.

The Ibrox men enjoyed the better of the first period but could not find a way past Foster, with Morelos denied four times by the keeper before his weak penalty was also pushed away.

There was surprise as the Colombian picked up the ball but Gerrard confirmed it was his call to replace regular taker James Tavernier – who has failed with three spot kicks this season – with his top scorer.

Steven Gerrard praised the performance of his players after their defeat to Celtic
Steven Gerrard praised the performance of his players after their defeat to Celtic (Jane Barlow/PA)

Gerrard said: “I thought we were outstanding in terms of our performance. Everything we asked of the players today, in terms of how we approach it and what we wanted from them to a man I can’t be much prouder of them.

“But finals are normally decided on big moments and the big moments haven’t gone in our favour today.

“We conceded from a set-piece which we shouldn’t have given away and had to defend it better. There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR.

“The penalty’s a big moment. If you execute there and then, it puts you in a much stronger position. Unfortunately we haven’t taken our chance in that big moment.

Gerrard confirmed Alfredo Morelos was his nominated penalty taker
Gerrard confirmed Alfredo Morelos was his nominated penalty taker (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Alfredo was the nominated penalty taker. It was nothing to do with James passing the buck or anything like that. I decided we needed to change that up.

“We’ve got a huge game on Thursday and no better game to bounce back. I’ll stay with these players. On the evidence of what I’ve seen today, performance-wise, I’m staying right behind them.

“We might have to suffer a little bit, of course. We have to soak it up, remember it and be ready to go and give ourselves another opportunity and that type of performance will get us where we want to get to.

“I’ve got a big job to pick them all up because it’s a tough one. It’s raw right now but this is football at the top. We’ll suffer and then we’ll bounce back.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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