Rangers' Leon Balogun eager to build on winning momentum ahead of Europa League clash with Sparta Prague

Rangers defender Leon Balogun is hoping to build on the momentum of a convincing Viaplay cup semi-final win over Hearts (Photo: Mark Runnacles)
Rangers defender Leon Balogun is hoping to build on the momentum of a convincing Viaplay cup semi-final win over Hearts (Photo: Mark Runnacles)

The Light Blues are on a high following their convincing 3-1 Viaplay Cup semi-final win over Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday which set up a return to the national stadium on December 17 for the showpiece finale against cinch Premiership rivals Aberdeen.

Philippe Clement has gone five games unbeaten since taking over as Gers boss from Michael Beale, with the only blip a goalless draw against Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic.

Group C is finely balanced after three fixtures with Real Betis top with six points, Sparta Prague and Rangers on four and Aris Limassol on three.

Rangers are currently eight points behind league leaders Celtic with a game in hand and after the visit of the Czech outfit to Ibrox later this week, they travel to Livingston on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Nigeria international, in his second spell at Rangers and left out of the European squad by Beale, spoke of the importance of continuing the good form, saying: "It is vital, first and foremost for Thursday, then Sunday.

"We are chasing at the moment and we want to turn it around.

"I think it is quite clear what we are trying to achieve this season, the manager said it himself, he wants to win everything possible and that's the target.

"But you are only as good as your last game and we need to knock one game out after another and make sure performances are at the right level and Sunday.

"Also, last Wednesday (5-0 win over Dundee) should boost the confidence for Thursday because it is going to be a tough game.

"It is going to be pretty similar to the last game.

"We just need to have a fast start and the confidence we have built and the momentum we have created over the last two games should help."

Skipper Tavernier was knocking in the goals during Balogun's first spell at Rangers and his double against Hearts, a penalty and terrific free-kick from 20 yards, took his tally to 10 so far this season.

Tavernier missed then scored and a penalty in the 2-1 league win over the Jambos last week and Balogun paid tribute to "Captain Fantastic" as he looked forward to the final against Aberdeen, where the Ibrox side will look to win the competition for the first time since 2011.

He said: "Some things never change. It is just Tav doing Tav things. We are very lucky to have him.

"He steps up in the right moments. Against Hearts last week he obviously missed a takes a lot of balls to step up again.

"On Sunday, he scored two very important goals, one of them a beautiful free-kick. What can I say? Captain Fantastic.

"We all come to the club to play for trophies, this is what this club is all about,” Balogun added.

"Everyone is really happy that we are one step away from this trophy but we need to put in the work first."