Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst said it would be tough to pick his players up for Saturday’s Scottish Cup final after their Europa League heartbreak in Seville.
Rangers were a penalty shootout away from winning European silverware for the first time in 50 years before Aaron Ramsey’s miss at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium allowed Frankfurt to edge to victory after 90 minutes plus extra time had failed to separate the two sides.
Van Bronckhorst’s side collected their runners-up medals barely 64 hours ahead of taking to the pitch at Hampden Park against Hearts in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, a trophy they have not lifted since 2009.
With the Europa League final finishing past midnight local time, Van Bronckhorst and his players face a quick turnaround ahead of the domestic showpiece, both physically and mentally after an exhausting – and ultimately disappointing – night in Spain.
“It’s difficult [to pick the players up for the Scottish Cup final],” he told BT Sport. “It’s short days because we play on Saturday. But we will have to face this challenge as well. The emotions are very down but we have to change that quickly to be prepared for Saturday.
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“Next season we have to start all over again. We came so far because we played well, we had the belief. But next year it starts again. It’s not certain we’ll be on this level. We’re going to work hard and make sure we develop as a team and we want to be on this stage. Next year we have to do it again and we’ll work hard to get silverware next season.
“When you play the final you’re very close to winning silverware and we were today. When you don’t win the emotions go from possibly very high to very low. I’ve had those moments in my career, losing big games, losing the World Cup final. It hurts. For us it’s now to look ahead. It’s difficult but we have to make sure we’re ready for Saturday. A big game against Hearts for the cup.”
Aaron Ramsey's missed penalty proved decisive in the shoot-out
Lundstram: We’ve let everyone down
John Lundstram was perhaps lucky not to face further punishment following an early accidental but potentially dangerous high foot on Sebastian Rode, before continuing to put on a typically all-action performance which saw him go down with cramp late on.
The Liverpudlian was left emotional after the final whistle in front of a Rangers crowd far in excess of their official allocation of 9,500.
“I don’t think both teams performed great. We could have played better – it’s hard to perform on a big stage like this,” he told BT Sport.
“It’s nervous for everyone. I’m just severely disappointed to let everyone down. The Rangers fans have travelled out here and given us three quarters of the stadium. It’s heartbreaking.”
Steven Davis, who was part of the Rangers squad beaten by Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, said his side had given their all but conceded reaching the heights of a European final would be a tough feat to repeat.
Ryan Kent was denied in the final minutes of extra-time by Kevin Trapp
“It’s a huge disappointment. It’s hard to reflect straight away,” he said. “The boys have been tremendous, but it hurts tonight. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of [the penalties]. Whenever you get to a final it hurts if you don’t come away with the trophy.
“But I couldn’t be more proud of the lads, staff and fans. We left everything out on the pitch. It’s going to be a sore one to take. We know how difficult it will be to get to this stage again.”
Captain James Tavernier took – and scored – Rangers’ first penalty in the shoot-out, and said the dressing room would rally around itself ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.
He said: “I’m devastated. It hurts but I’m proud of every one of them who stepped up and took one.
“We went toe to toe with them, I’m disappointed because we took the lead. Their keeper made a fantastic save with Kent towards the end.
“I’m proud of every single person involved in Rangers. We’ve got to use this fuel to push us on. We want to be back in finals and have a massive game on Saturday. We’re a close-knit dressing room, we’ll get around each other.”
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