Rangers have been handed a major boost ahead of Friday's Europa League draw.

Michael Beale's side dropped into UEFA's second-tier competition on Wednesday night after suffering a heavy 7-3 aggregate defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League play-off round.

The Ibrox side were hammered 5-1 on a miserable second-leg evening in the Netherlands, a blow somewhat softened by parachuting directly into the Europa League, a competition in which they reached the final in 2022.

UEFA allocate the 32 qualified teams into four pots, which are then used to compose eight groups. With qualifying matches still ongoing, the final draw composition is still taking shape, but a shock result has helped raise Rangers' chances of qualifying for the knockout stage.

Sparta Prague were 3-1 down to Dinamo Zagreb heading into tonight's second-leg in the Czech Republic, but have staged an incredible comeback in beating the Croatians 3-0 to book their place in the group stage.

UEFA coefficient points are used to decide which pot teams are allocated to, and teams with the highest ranking are placed in pot one. It appeared Rangers were set to be placed into pot two, with Zagreb looking poised to go through and secure a pot one berth.

But their stunning defeat leaves Rangers as the next highest ranked side in the draw, elevating them into pot one instead.

It means Beale's side can no longer be drawn against the likes of Liverpool, Roma, Bayer Leverkusen, Villarreal, Atalanta or last season's Europa Conference League winners West Ham.

They could, however, still face tests against Real Betis or Brighton and Hove Albion.

But for the time being, focus turns to Sunday's derby clash with Celtic. Former Rangers manager Graeme Souness believes Beale deserves time to get things right following this week's thumping in Eindhoven, but stressed his first meeting with Brendan Rodgers is a 'must not lose' encounter.

In a talkSPORT interview, Souness, 70, player-manager of Rangers between 1986 and 1991, said: “It was a tough one to take last night. I’m a Rangers supporter and it was a hard watch.

“We’ve got a new manager and he’s obviously trying to implement new ideas on the group he is working with and he’s got several new faces.

READ MORE: Graeme Souness issues Rangers non negotiable to Michael Beale for Celtic clash

“I watched both games and in the first game they (Rangers) got away with it.

“PSV were a good team on the front foot, not so good at defending, they’ll get beat up a few times in the Champions League by the better teams I would think.

“It was just a step too far for this Rangers team. He’s brought new players in, (it) is still very early to pass judgement on them in terms of how they will do in the Scottish Premiership.

“He’s been there before with Steven Gerrard so he knows the pressures that come with being in the hot seat at Rangers.

“Getting beat up in midweek isn’t good for him, and if they came unstuck on Sunday that will put him under a hell of a lot of pressure.

“He is a relative newcomer to the hot seat. I’ve been there, I have managed big football clubs and Rangers is as big as any. The pressures that come with that job are enormous.

“You’ve got to batten down the hatches and take it on the chin because he will be we getting a lot of criticism this morning, and keep believing in what he’s doing.

“Do I believe in him long term? I wouldn’t be critical of him. I think it’s a hard job, I know how difficult that job is and we’ve got to give him time to get his team thinking the way he wants them to think and play the way he wants them to play. But it’s not an easy job he’s got. It’s a must-not-lose game I think.”