Rangers boss Steven Gerrard reveals why Celtic’s Champions League exit is a blow for Gers

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard reveals why Celtic’s Champions League exit is a blow for Gers

Celtic suffered a 4-3 loss at Parkhead to Romanian champions CFR Cluj to crash out 5-4 on aggregate and miss out on the Champions League group stag

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Celtic suffered a 4-3 loss at Parkhead to Romanian champions CFR Cluj to crash out 5-4 on aggregate and miss out on the Champions League group stages for a second straight season.

The Scottish Premiership champions will now enter the Europa League and will take on either Moldovan outfit Sheriff Tiraspol or AIK from Sweden in the play-off round.

Rangers, meanwhile, have one foot in the final qualifying round of the same tournament thanks to their lead over Denmark’s FC Midtjylland at the tie’s half-way mark.

Gerrard’s Gers are 4-2 up after winning the first leg in Herning last week, having been 3-0 up by the 56th minute.

The two lock horns again at Ibrox tonight (7.45pm) for the prospect of facing Poland’s Legia Warsaw or Atromitos of Greece, with the former leading 2-0 after the first leg.

But while Rangers fans will no doubt have enjoyed the misery of their arch rivals, whose finances would have been significantly strengthened by reaching the Champions League group stages, Gerrard is not too pleased by the Hoops’ setback.

He said: “It’s certainly going to be detrimental because all the Scottish teams need to do as well as we can to improve the coefficient and give ourselves an advantage in these European competitions.

“From that aspect [Celtic’s defeat] is very disappointing. 

“But for me, I’m the manager of Glasgow Rangers and my focus is on and the challenges that face us.”

Scotland are currently 20th in UEFA’s coefficient ranking system, with Celtic’s failure to qualify costing the country an automatic four points.

Losing on Tuesday night, instead of drawing, also cost Celtic an extra half point.

It deals a significant blow to the hopes of Scottish clubs being able to enter European competitions in the later rounds, with all four of Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock having entered at the first round of qualifying this year.

Despite Celtic falling into the Europa League before the group stages last season, Scotland recorded its largest coefficient points haul in over a decade and Rangers and Aberdeen will hope for similar this season. 

And Gerrard has warned Rangers not to underestimate FC Midtjylland, who have beaten Manchester United and Southampton in the last four years.

He added: “What it [Celtic’s loss] shows is that European ties are never over, even when you get a positive result in the first leg.

“Some of these teams that people don’t know much about – Cluj from Romania for example or Midtjylland from Denmark – they carry a huge threat.

“They are so desperate for financial reasons to progress, like most of us, so my players need to take note of last night and make sure we deal with our second leg much better.”

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