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Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder Matías Fernández believes there is still a long way to go in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie with Rangers FC despite his late header having secured a precious away goal in the 1-1 first-leg draw.
The Chilean substitute scored in the penultimate minute of the Ibrox encounter to put the Portuguese side in a promising position ahead of next week's second leg in Lisbon. However, he stressed that there was still substantial work to do to ensure progress to the last 16. "Yes, of course we are in a good position. However, everything is still open," the former Villarreal CF player told UEFA.com.
"There is still one game to go for us, at home, and anything can happen. We have an advantage now because we have an away goal and now we will play in our own stadium. It will be important to take the game to Rangers in Lisbon and, hopefully, to ensure that we go through."
Fernández's fellow Sporting midfielder Alberto Zapater acknowledged the value of an away goal, though he too warned against any complacency going into the return match. "We drew, so that's all right and the important thing is that we scored a goal away from home. But we will still need to give more in the second game because Rangers are a good team. This tie isn't finished. If it had finished 1-0, we would have been in a difficult situation but having got the equaliser, it takes the pressure off of us a little bit at home."
Rangers captain David Weir expressed dismay at conceding the goal that wiped out Steven Whittaker's 66th-minute opener but believes the Scottish champions can turn things round in the Portuguese capital. "It was disappointing to lose the late goal," the veteran defender said. "We put a lot into the game to get our lead. They scored a good goal, but we perhaps didn't do as well as we could have done. All the games are difficult at this time of the season, Sunday's [derby against Celtic FC] is another big one for us."
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