Dujon Sterling has had plenty of time to plan his celebration. When his big moment finally came around, his reaction was instinctive rather than rehearsed.

This was not the first time that Sterling had put the ball in the back of the net in his career. It was, though, his first senior strike. It couldn’t have come at a better time for him or for Rangers.

The pass from Fabio Silva split the Benfica defence. Sterling started his run from the edge of the area, well aware that Benfica wouldn't follow him into the six yard box. When he met Silva’s low cross, he converted it with all the composure of a forward. Given his adaptability, his man of many talents role within this squad, it should have come as no surprise that he slotted the chance away with such ease.

The goals scored during his youth career with Chelsea are now the footnote for Sterling. His time at Coventry City, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Stoke City didn’t see him register and it has perhaps taken him longer than he would have wished to open his account at Ibrox. To do it in the Estadio da Luz was something special and it could prove to be decisive as Philippe Clement’s side look to convert a first leg draw into a last eight place next week.

“Yeah, it was my first senior goal,” Sterling said. “It is a great place to do it, a great occasion. It was a very important one as well. Yeah [I have been close before], but I have never had the luck to get in. This time it was right place, right time. I didn’t know what to do! I just jumped on Fabio!

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“We worked on [making those runs], we watched it before when we were watching them. They don’t track runners into the box so it was about getting the right timing.

“[It ranks as] number one. It is the only one! It is just trying to do my bit for the team. The gaffer said if I am playing out right I need to rack up numbers as well. You can only have one or two moments in the game. That is what happened, I only had one moment and I scored. It is an important goal and I need to carry it on for next week.

“I just try my best. All anyone can ask of you is to give 100 per cent and try your best. That is what I try to do.”

The goal from Sterling was no more than Rangers deserved at that stage. The visitors had opened the scoring in style through a neat move that was finished off by Tom Lawrence only to be pegged back by an Angel di Maria penalty. At a time when lesser characters could have crumbled, Sterling stood up to be counted to restore the lead at the break.

Rangers ultimately had to settle for a draw as Connor Goldson’s own goal denied them a historic achievement in Lisbon. The momentum is with Clement’s side in this tie, though. Benfica were treated with the upmost respect but the challenge was one that Rangers rose to.

“There were some quality players but I thought we did well as well,” Sterling said. “Apart from their goals they didn’t really create anything and they were from our mistakes. Credit to us, we kept going and got a result that gives us great confidence going into next week.

“We saw it when we played Betis as well and won away. They had World Cup winners in their squad as well. It is nothing new for us, we always had the belief that we can play against the best and that is what we are proving.”

The tie is now there to be won for Rangers. It cannot be said that the hard work has been done against the Portuguese giants but emerging from the first leg with the balance in their favour represents another hugely impressive feat from Clement’s side.

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Many supporters would have perhaps sacrificed a shot at European glory to focus attentions on the Scottish Cup clash with Hibernian and upcoming Premiership fixtures. Come kick-off on Thursday evening, nobody in a capacity crowd will be thinking about anything other than the quarter-finals.

“Hopefully it does,” Sterling said when asked if Ibrox could give Rangers the edge in the return leg. “Their crowd got them back in it as well so hopefully for us next week the place is rocking and they are intimidated.”