Nathan Patterson repaid the faith shown in him by Steven Gerrard with a goal as Rangers beat Royal Antwerp 5-2 to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.

Rangers scored two late goals last week to take a slender lead into Thursday's reverse fixture and extended their lead inside nine minutes through Alfredo Morelos' strike en route to a 9-5 aggregate victory.

Lior Refaelov added to his goal and two assists from the first leg by equalising for Antwerp in Glasgow, but substitute Patterson - given a reprieve by Gerrard after his recent breach of coronavirus protocols - made an instant impact to put the Gers back in front.

Ryan Kent gave the hosts more breathing space nine minutes later and although Didier Lamkel Ze pulled one back another for Antwerp, Borna Barisic and Cedric Itten netted late penalties as Rangers reached the last 16 for the second year running.

Kent was among the scorers in the gripping first leg and was involved from the off here, testing Ortwin De Wolf with a low drive before picking Jeremy Gelin’s pocket and setting up Morelos for a simple finish.

Rangers had won just one of their four Europa League knockout matches at Ibrox and they were pegged back by Refaelov's deft finish following some good play out wide from Jordan Lukaku.

Gerrard replaced Leon Balogun with Patterson at the interval and that paid instant dividends as the teenage right-back, a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad, got in behind and picked out the bottom corner 16 seconds after being brought on.

Morelos then repaid the favour to Kent for the earlier assist by knocking the ball past Martin Hongla and crossing for his team-mate to finish, giving Rangers a three-goal advantage on aggregate.

Antwerp, competing in their first major European knockout match since 1994-95, gave themselves hope thanks to Lamkel Ze's tap-in following a comical coming together between Connor Goldson and Allan McGregor.

But Rangers extended their lead through Barisic's penalty - awarded for Maxime Le Marchand's trip on Morelos - which was followed up by another from the spot in the closing stages, converted by Itten.

Steven Gerrard praised the "quality and character" of his Rangers side after they scored a couple of late goals to edge a 4-3 thriller with Royal Antwerp in their Europa League last-32 first leg.

The Scottish Premiership leaders trailed 2-1 and 3-2 at Bosuilstadion but won the seven-goal classic through substitute Ryan Kent's strike and a second Borna Barisic penalty in the final seven minutes.

Rangers, who lost captain James Tavernier and attacker Kemar Roofe to injury in the first half, are now unbeaten in all seven matches in this season's competition proper and have tasted defeat just once in their last 40 games overall.

And while Gerrard admitted to being concerned about the poor defending on show - the Gers conceding as many goals in Thursday's match as in their last 11 matches combined - he was pleased with the way his side dug deep to pick up the win.

"I am just waiting for the heart rate to come down," he said. "It was a fantastic game. I am sure all the neutrals enjoyed it. But from a manager's point of view there is certainly a lot to analyse.

"Obviously, defensively we haven't been at it tonight, we haven't been at our very best. We have conceded three goals and that is the second time at this level that we have done that. That tells me we have a lot of work to do in terms of our organisation.

"But it is very difficult to win away from home in Europe. Experience of Scottish teams going out in Europe tells me that.

"It is very difficult to win at this level way from home. I have got to give the boys credit for winning the game. I thought we were much better in the second half."

Felipe Avenatti's header and a contentious Lior Refaelov penalty late in the first half gave Antwerp, competing in their first European knockout tie since 1994-95, the lead after Joe Aribo had opened the scoring.

Barisic was making his 100th appearance for Rangers and levelled up with the first of his two penalties, before Martin Hongla found the bottom-left corner with a deflected shot to put the visitors back in front.

But substitute Kent, who was not deemed fit enough to start the game, scored a third away goal for the Gers and Barisic converted from a last-minute penalty awarded for handball against Abdoulaye Seck, who was red carded as a result.

"I said to them at half-time not to panic," Gerrard added. "We were 2-1 down, but even if the game stayed at 2-1 it wasn't the end of the world, because we had got the away goal.

"I had seen enough in the first 45 minutes to tell me we could cause this team problems.

"Obviously, the injury didn't help us when it happened. I thought we lost a bit of our rhythm at the time. But I always knew I had quality on the bench to add to it. I thought Ryan showed his freshness coming on. 

"He scored a wonderful goal. Over the course of the 90 minutes we deserved to win the game. We could have scored a few more goals. It's a crazy football match to analyse just now because it has only just finished.

"But it shows we have got quality and character in our team."

Rangers are now the favourites to progress from next week's second leg at Ibrox as they aim to reach the last 16 of the competition in successive seasons.

However, they may be without Tavernier - arguably their key man - and Roofe after both players limped off in the first half.

Providing an update on the pair after the game, Gerrard told BT Sport: "Kemar's got another calf so that's a concern. He's getting too many of those calves at the moment so we're going to have to look into that and maybe get him to see the right people.

"He's very down and frustrated at the moment so that's a blow for us. Obviously James going off as well - he never goes off the pitch so that worries me a bit as well.

"We'll look at both situations, analyse them over the next couple of days and hopefully they're not as bad as first feared."

Rangers scored twice in the final seven minutes to salvage a 4-3 victory in Thursday's thrilling Europa League last-32 tie with Royal Antwerp. 

The Gers, who progressed through the group stage as one of six unbeaten sides, survived a scare at Bosuilstadion in the first leg to take a big advantage into next week's return fixture in Glasgow. 

Felipe Avenatti's header and a contentious Lior Refaelov penalty late in the first half followed on from Joe Aribo's opener for the visitors, before Borna Barisic levelled up from the spot just before the hour. 

Antwerp regained their lead through Martin Hongla's strike to put Rangers, who lost influential captain James Tavernier and attacker Kemar Roofe to first-half injuries, on the brink of a first defeat in 13 games. 

However, substitute Ryan Kent scored a third away goal for the Scottish Premiership leaders and Barisic kept his cool with another penalty to mark his 100th appearance for the club with a double, sealing a remarkable victory in Belgium.

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