TO achieve the feat once was impressive, to do it again was historic. Now Steven Gerrard stands on the verge of a remarkable hat-trick as Rangers moved to within 90 minutes of the Europa League once again.

Whatever trials, tribulations and troubles Rangers have found domestically under Gerrard, the way they perform on the continent speaks volumes for the manager and his players. This 4-0 victory wasn’t their most satisfying on this stage, but it was an eye-catching result as Willem II were soundly beaten.

A tie that could have been tricky for Rangers was taken care of in emphatic style as James Tavernier and Ryan Kent scored in the first half and Filip Helander and Connor Goldson netted in the second.

There will be no raucous Ibrox crowd to greet Gerrard’s side when they face Galatasaray next week but it could still be a night to remember for Rangers. A unique achievement is now on the cards and group football is tantalisingly close.

Rangers overcame Maribor and Midtjylland at this stage of the competition in the previous two campaigns and while this challenge was of a similar level, it was a very different encounter to those famous away results. Against a Willem side that were comfortable in possession and had a potent forward line, Rangers did look fragile at times.

This wasn’t a night that saw Gerrard’s side reproduce the disciplined, never-say-die performance in Slovenia, nor was it similar to the free-flowing showing that saw them saunter to victory in Denmark.

But it was clinical and certainly effective as another qualifying round win was secured. Willem had their moments, but Rangers were more than worthy winners in Tilburg.

A speculative effort from Pol Llonch didn’t worry Allan McGregor, but the keeper found a dipping drive from Derrick Kohn more difficult to deal with and he was fortunate that Vangelis Pavlidis couldn’t convert on the rebound. The Greek striker had been pinpointed as one of Willem’s main danger men by Gerrard and he really should have scored from just a couple of yards.

Pavlidis was the creator later in the half as a neat reverse ball sent Dries Saddiki through but McGregor, as he has done so often for Gerrard, made a terrific save that maintained the advantage for Rangers. The stop to deny Che Nunnely was equally as impressive but no less important.

They ensured that Gerrard’s side were well in control and just 45 minutes away from the play-off round. Once again, the Ibrox boss had two of his most trusted operators to thank.

Tavernier must take most of the credit for the opener given the way that he converted from the spot but the move leading up to the award owed much to Kent. Collecting a dinked ball from Steven Davis, the winger taunted Miquel Nelom into making a challenge and there was only one outcome after a clumsy tackle.

This was the first penalty that Tavernier had scored for Rangers since netting twice against Aberdeen last year. Given the way he stroked it down the centre of the goal, it was hard to fathom why had he endured such strife from 12 yards.

Having taken the lead they perhaps didn’t deserve, Rangers wasted no time in doubling it. Kent got his name on the scoresheet this time.

His fifth goal of the campaign wasn’t a moment of magic, but it again highlighted why he is a player of such importance to Rangers. He was alive to the possibility of keeper Robbin Ruiter fumbling a strike from Alfredo Morelos and was in the right place at the right time to score.

The job was almost done for Rangers. Within ten minutes of the restart, it was game over and game won.

There was a sense of déjà vu about the opening stages as McGregor made another excellent stop and Rangers made Willem pay. Gorkem Saglam was the one denied by McGregor this time as another chance for the hosts was passed up and within seconds the tie was beyond them.

Kent was integral to everything good about Rangers on the night and he got another assist. Picking the ball up on the left, he chipped a cross into the danger area and Helander rose highest to nod it beyond a helpless Ruiter. Willem were beaten, and they knew it.

The fourth goal – a towering header from Goldson – was a further show of strength from Rangers and there was still time for McGregor to add another moment to a personal highlights reel. He did his own job denying Pavlidis with a point-blank save and then that of the officials as he spotted the striker bundling the ball over the line with his hand.

Like a couple of those in front of him, McGregor had stepped up when it mattered most. Now Gerrard will need all of his players to do just that at Ibrox next week.