SIR Kenny Dalglish has lauded the performances of Scottish clubs in Europe this season – and expressed hope both Celtic and Rangers can qualify for the Europa League knockout rounds and increase their prospects of getting into the Champions League in future.

Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland legend Dalglish was back at Parkhead on Thursday night and was delighted to see his old club come from behind against Serie A rivals Lazio and record a 2-1 triumph that kept them on top of Group E.

The three-time European Cup winner was also pleased to learn Steven Gerrard’s side had earned a 1-1 draw with Porto in Portugal earlier to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top two in Group G and going through to the last 32.

Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers’ performances in Europe in the 2019/20 campaign have improved the country’s club coefficient ranking – they have jumped up to 18th place and are just 0.675 points behind Greece in 15th place.

If they can overtake Greece, who only have Olympiakos left in continental competition, they could be handed two Champions League qualifying places in the 2021/22 season for the first time since 2012/13.

However, Sir Kenny feels Neil Lennon’s team and Gerrard’s men must keep performing well in their remaining three group games and survive until after Christmas if they are going to achieve that feat.

“Both of them did extremely well on Thursday and the pleasing thing is that it isn’t a one-off,” he said. “Celtic are top of their section and Rangers are just behind Young Boys. It’s sometimes difficult to judge how good the opposition are, but Celtic and Rangers both turned in fine performances.

“I was at the Celtic-Lazio game and, even though Fraser Forster had a couple of great saves and the Italians hit the post, Celtic still deserved their victory. It doesn’t do the Scottish boys who are playing in that environment any harm, that’s for sure.

“I don’t know how the coefficient works. Obviously, it would help if both clubs qualified from their groups in terms of giving us more clubs in the Champions League.”

Sir Kenny added: “You don’t buck a trend which has lasted for 10 years with one good night – you do that with longevity. In the same way, you don’t become a disaster overnight.

“But there are positive signs there and no-one can say that the two clubs don’t deserve to be where they are. In fact, maybe some people would argue that they should be doing even better and, with a wee bit of luck, maybe they could’ve been, but they’re certainly better than they were a few years ago.”

Sir Kenny worked with Scotland manager Steve Clarke during his second stint in charge of Liverpool and believes the national team would ultimately benefit if Celtic and Rangers return to the Champions League in future.

“Scottish football would be better off and so would the national team,” he said. “Ryan Christie has broken through with Celtic in the last year and Mikey Johnston had looked good before he got injured. James Forrest and Callum McGregor have been there for a long time and there are a few other boys coming along and that augurs well.”

However, Sir Kenny, who was speaking to promote McDonald's Fun Football Sessions in Glasgow, has warned Celtic, who travel to Rome for a rematch with Simone Inzaghi’s side next month, not to get carried away with their Lazio triumph.

“I thought Celtic deserved to beat Lazio because they played really well,” he said. “But you’ve also got to be careful that you don’t go overboard because we don’t know how genuine Lazio were about this competition and how much it means to them.

“They left out seven players on Thursday night, but that doesn’t matter because you can only beat the ones who are on the pitch and Celtic did that and they merited the win.”

Sir Kenny has been pleased to see his fellow Anfield great Gerrard do so well since moving into management and predicted having a closer Scottish title race will help both Celtic and Rangers to compete in Europe.

“You want that competition at the top, don’t you?” he said. “I think Steven Gerrard has done a great job. The good thing is that Celtic haven’t gone backwards; Rangers have got better and the European results reflect that. Celtic’s have been better recently than before as well.

“Well, Rangers have never won it before because Celtic are obviously going for Nine-In-A-Row aren’t they? But it doesn’t mean to say because you’ve experienced it last year that you’re going to win it this year. You can only win it if your results are good.

“When they (Celtic) won it for the first time what did they say then about the boys? They were saying they had been unlucky, they can’t win it for the first time. Well, somebody’s got to, haven’t they? Everybody has got to win it for the first time.

“It obviously helps you a wee bit, but it’s not going to guarantee anything. The team that wins it will be the team that deserves to win it. Both of them have been excellent and I think it’s great for the Scottish Premiership that the two of them are doing well and are also doing well in Europe.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish was speaking at one of McDonald’s Fun Football Sessions, which introduces kids to the game for their first time. Sign up today and start your child’s football journey -