• Pride at the performance as Rangers eye a last eight spot
  • The importance of the Ibrox factor in the second leg
  • Sense of injustice as harsh penalty call against Souttar

Philippe Clement has spoken to the media after the draw with Benfica. Here is what the Rangers manager said in Lisbon.

How proud are you of the performance the players put in and the result you got here?

I am really proud about the performance. The result? Yeah, that stays a difficult one. I think we were really close by making this miracle, by winning here as the first team ever in the Europa League against them. It is a pity to get a penalty like that against, it is a really unlucky situation. This ball drops, John doesn’t see where the ball drops and it drops on his arm. It is very unlucky. And then the own goal also. We were really close. We also had an opportunity or two with Fabio and Cyriel to make it 3-1 and it would have changed also a lot in this game. But I am really, really proud about my team. They showed character, they showed solidarity, they showed personality, also with the ball and we scored two really good goals with good football. I am really someone who is demanding towards them but I cannot ask more than what they give today. They gave their all, everything. Also the guys who came in. We miss a lot of players in the offensive positions so other players had to do the job. Very happy also with Fabio and Dujon doing that role really good in this game. We need to continue like this and if they keep this mentality that they have been showing in the last couple of months then it can be an amazing season.

The mentality must give you a lot of heart going forward?

Yeah, we talked about that a lot in October and November about those situations and how to come through it in a good way and to do it much better than they did before. They are totally in the story now, they understand that you cannot give away this one, two minutes of regret. It is about the next action, to be ready and believe in ourselves and your teammates. That is what they have been doing now the last couple of months. That is why when we go behind or get goals against we continue playing and we took a lot of points in other competitions. I see the mentality that I want to see, I see also good quality on the ball to score two goals like that against a good team like Benfica and having a few other opportunities. I am very happy what my team have showed with and without the ball today.

Do you now have the advantage in the tie going back to Ibrox?

It is not an advantage, I think. It is an advantage it is at Ibrox because our fans, if they are on top of it from the first second until the last second, they can give a lot of energy to the team. But we stay realistic about the qualities of Benfica. You guys wrote it this week about the difference in transfer budget. That is the reality. If we can eliminate this team I think it would be a huge, huge thing. I can only ask for my players to give their best and to show what they have shown today again on Thursday.

Did you have any issues with the penalty?

It is very harsh, yes. I said it already a few times, I don’t agree with where the game has gone to with the handball situation but those are the rules. I had more problems with the last couple of weeks with the situations. This one, with the rules how they are now, you can give [it]. As somebody who loves football, I have difficulty with those rules. Like all the managers, I think, and all the players. It is too harsh now that a ball that is clearly not intended to go against your arm, the moment it touches you it is a penalty. Too many games all over the world are decided in that way also with these handballs and these penalty situations. Those are the rules, we need to accept it. I am not from UEFA or FIFA so that is not my job. Maybe after the job as manager I can do something like that to make the game a little bit more simple again for referees also because for them it is a difficult job now.