Rangers 2-1 Sparta Prague: Analysis

Jonathan Sutherland, BBC Sport Scotland

You cannot help but wonder just how secure Rangers Europa League progression would be had they not lost that match away to Aris Limassol.

Rangers were in limbo following the departure of Michael Beale when they flew out to take on the Cypriot side. Steven Davis took interim charge of a side in the dismal doldrums, directionless and bereft of confidence.

What a difference between then and now. Philippe Clement has firmly taken control of matters at Rangers and while they may not yet be the machine he intends to create, the manufacturing phase is well underway.

The Belgian is still unbeaten since taking over and there is a clear sense of progression and improvement - the first half here against Sparta Prague was perhaps the best half Rangers have played under Clement.

The players look energised, they press high up the pitch, they get the ball forward quickly. They look like they are enjoying their football, which is being played with a clear-eyed sense of purpose and intent. It bodes well for the remainder of this group.

The second half was more competitive but it had to be given how toothless Sparta Prague had been. Jack Butland also needed to show his quality once again to get his side over the line with a big save in the closing stages. Rangers are not the finished article but this was still a huge victory.

The Rangers fans will expect their rejuvenated side to take care of Aris in the next match at Ibrox. The final match is away to Real Betis in December but after putting Sparta Prague to the sword Rangers should have every expectation of reaching the knockout stage of the Europa League.