Ianis Hagi hopes he made dad Gheorghe proud after rescuing Rangers’ Europa League dreams with his Braga double.
The Gers’ hopes of reaching the last 16 appeared to be in tatters after the Portuguese side snatched a two-goal lead at Ibrox on Thursday night.
But with Hagi senior, the former Real Madrid and Barcelona star, watching from the directors’ box, the 21-year-old refused to accept defeat and sparked the fightback which earned a 3-2 lead heading to next Wednesday’s return leg.
The on-loan Genk attacker scored twice after also playing a part in Joe Aribo’s equaliser and said: “It was for nights like this I joined Rangers. My whole family were here, so it’s amazing.
“It’s the first time they came here and I’m really proud they were in the stand. I’m really happy and I guess I made them proud.
“I’m just doing my job. Every single time I go on the field, I know what my job is. I have to assist, create and score. That’s my job and it doesn’t change if we are winning, losing or drawing.
“It’s an important victory but it’s still only the first leg, so we have to think about St Johnstone on Sunday. We play every three days, so we don’t have time to dwell on any game.
“We just have to move on to the next game and we also have to play the second leg, so nothing is done yet. But we are confident we can score over there and progress.”
‘Hagi has fight in him’
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard heaped praise on Hagi and Aribo after the match and said the Romanian had “provided the magic” for a memorable comeback.
“Ianis is an outstanding talent and that stage was made for him,” said Gerrard. “There was a lot of pressure on him, his dad was in the crowd tonight for the first time at Ibrox.
“He’s got fight in him. It’s not just talent, it’s fight. He wants to win. He provided the magic and spark to get us back into the game.
“The first goal is outstanding – to cut in on his left foot, which I think is his weak one but I’m still not sure, was an outstanding finish.
“Then to have the audacity to try the second one from 30-odd yards out, to have the confidence. We got a bit of luck but sometimes in this game, you have to make your own luck and he certainly deserved that.”
Gerrard: Ibrox deserves nights like this
Rangers have endured a miserable 2020 so far after dropping 10 points behind Celtic in the domestic title race, but Gerrard hopes this win will provide the spark that reignites their campaign.
The former Liverpool skipper, who was no stranger to European comebacks as a player, added: “This is what Ibrox deserves. It’s what this club deserves with the amount of history and big nights there have been before.
“It is our responsibility to try to get as many of these nights back as we can. We saw some people leaving at 2-0. I’m not sure if that was the scoreline or the weather but there was a bit of negativity behind the bench, but in European football magical nights happen.
“I’ve experienced them as a player and I hope I experience a lot more. Tonight was right up there.”
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