THE Europa League has given Steven Gerrard some of the most memorable, stressful and satisfying nights of his managerial career to date. This isn’t one he will forget in a hurry, either.

From the high of Maribor to the relief of Ufa, the thrill of Rapid at Ibrox to the despair of defeat in Vienna. Add this one – a remarkable 4-2 victory – to the list and put it towards the top.

Only time will tell if there are any rewards for it, though. Goals from Alfredo Morelos, Joe Aribo, Nikola Katic and Scott Arfield have Rangers in control of this tie against Midtjylland but nothing can be taken for granted ahead of the return at Ibrox next week.

This wasn’t a perfect European performance from Rangers and it wasn’t a perfect scoreline, either. But the positives far outweighed the negatives as Gerrard’s side raised their game to edge closer to a play-off round berth once again.

While the victory over St Joseph’s in the first round was comprehensive, Rangers weren’t as comfortable as they should have been against Progres Niederkorn. Chances were missed at Ibrox and a workmanlike performance in Luxembourg last week ensured the 2-0 aggregate success wasn’t as wide a margin as it ought to have been.

Gerrard knew his side had to raise their game and their standards here. Midtjylland may not be one of the most illustrious names on the continent, but they are experienced operators at this level and have a good pedigree in Denmark over recent years.

It was at this stage last term that Rangers faced their toughest opposition in the shape of Maribor and this promised to be as equally as tricky an assignment. The Gers had made the trip to Herning with confidence, though, and that experience of 12 months ago and the improvements Gerrard has made to his squad mean there is now an expectation of a European run rather than a hope.

The compact but smart MCH Arena provided a pleasant background for what promised to be an entertaining fixture. It didn't disappoint as a rollercoaster 90 minutes ended in victory for Rangers.

The Danes were technically far superior to anything Rangers have faced competitively this term, while their physicality was also apparent from the off. It was not a case of them being dirty or malicious in their play, but this is a side with a very clear emphasis on strength and power and Rangers had to match that aspect of the game.

From a somewhat low-key and tight start, a superb match unfolded. This was a six-goal thriller that had it all as the goals eventually arrived in quick succession and the match, and the tie, flowed one way and then the other.

Morelos had carved out his first chance of the night by himself as he spun well on the edge of the area but a powerful shot never threatened keeper Jesper Hansen. At the other end, Allan McGregor was untested as Alexander Scholz blasted an effort high and wide after his first attempt had been blocked at the end of a penalty box scramble.

Most of Rangers’ best work came on the break as they looked to utilise the pace of Jordan Jones on the left. The Northern Irishman had encouraging moments – including one terrific run from deep in his own half into the Midtjylland area – but too many of Rangers’ attacking phases came to frustrating conclusions.

Eventually, Rangers made the breakthrough and kick-started the game into life. Morelos had come agonisingly close as Arfield fizzed a cross along the six yard line but the Colombian made no mistake with his next sight of the target.

James Tavernier provided the ball – a curling, dipping cross from the right - this time around and Morelos showed the clinical touch that has made him so important to Rangers as he headed home from close range. It had come late in the half, but it was a crucial moment for the Light Blues as they took a narrow advantage with them back to the dressing room.

Within eight minutes of the restart, they had doubled it. Gerrard had remained fairly calm when Morelos had scored, but a leap into the air and roar greeted this one as Aribo netted.

The pace and direct running of Jones made it as he forced Midtjylland onto the back foot with a burst through the middle of the park. He slipped the ball to his left and Aribo’s finish was calm but quality as he slotted home across target.

The home crowd were stunned into silence before a chorus of ‘attack, attack, attack’ emerged from behind the goal. It was Rangers who got the third of the night, though.

Midtjylland failed to clear their lines from a corner and Morelos kept the ball alive. On the angle, Katic dispatched it just inside the far post as Rangers suddenly found themselves three goals to the good.

It didn’t last. Within seconds, the lead was reduced as Frank Onyeka beat McGregor from just a couple of yards out after collecting a Gustav Wikheim cross.

It was a case of game management for Rangers now and they couldn’t allow Midtjylland to build up any momentum. They did just that, however, and Kaba got another goal back as he interchanged passes with Evander and finished well from the edge of the area.

A deep breath and some calm heads were needed for a spell but Rangers were still keen to press on and extend their lead rather than try and maintain it.

The fifth goal in a whirlwind 18 minutes arrived. Tavernier’s pass split the Midtjylland defence and Morelos picked out Arfield, who took one touch to steady himself and then scored with his second as a remarkable evening took another twist.

The goals may have stopped flying in but the action continued apace as tackles flew in, fights flared up and tensions threatened to boil over.

The final whistle brought it all to a conclusion and Rangers were able to celebrate a job well done, although one not as satisfying as it could have been.

Gerrard will hope for a similar outcome next Thursday evening. He, and the Rangers fans, could do without it being quite as dramatic, right enough.