Borna Barisic revealed Rangers’ Europa League victory over Real Betis had helped raise the spirits of a demoralised dressing room.
Abdallah Sima’s second-half goal ensured Michael Beale’s men got off to a winning start in their group campaign and built on the league victory secured at St Johnstone the previous weekend.
Barisic admitted the mood had been somewhat darker after the derby defeat to Celtic prior to the international break but hoped success in Europe could provide a springboard for better times ahead.
The Croatian defender said: “These two wins are very big, very important. I felt like we were old Rangers I would say. We were in a good way.
🔵 32 Home matches in the @EuropaLeague since 2017.
👉 23 Wins, 6 draws and only 3 defeats
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) September 22, 2023
“I am very happy, people are happy and the dressing room is happy. It’s a very big victory. We deserved the three points, a very huge three points. Betis are a very good team but we played a good game. The crowd was with us during the game. They gave us energy. It’s a very good start to the group.”
Asked what the mood in the Rangers squad had been like prior to this week, Barisic added: “We have not been happy. We have been very disappointed.
“We felt that we did not play well in some games. We lost the derby game and it was a hard two weeks to be here to train (after that). I wasn’t there but people said to me and I know what that feeling is like.
“Then we went to St Johnstone and won the game and now this game. So that’s why we feel much better now. But this is only one game. We need to continue like this, be positive and try to win all our games.”
Rangers welcome Motherwell to Ibrox on Sunday and Barisic acknowledged the need to keep building momentum.
He added: “This can be a turning point but it always depends on us. It’s an important win but it’s only one game. We just need to continue like this. There are games every three or four days so the schedule is very busy.
“It gives us confidence. This game shows we can compete with very good teams. Betis is a good team who finished sixth last season in the Spanish league and that shows they have quality. They came here as the most expensive team in our group – I cannot say the best – and we took the three points. So it’s the perfect start for the Europa League.”
Rabbi Matondo revealed it was Beale’s half-time team talk that had inspired Rangers’ stirring second-half performance after a flat opening period.
The forward said: “The manager got us going (at half-time). He wasn’t too pleased with certain aspects of our game and we had to up it in the second half and I felt that we did that. We had to dig in at times but ultimately I believe we deserved the win.”
The Welsh international conceded he should have given the team an early lead after he fastened on to Kemar Roofe’s long ball only to shoot straight at Betis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
He added: “One hundred per cent I should have scored. I think I snatched at it a bit and on another day it would have been a goal. That’s something I’ll look at again and see what I could have done better at the time.”