"I’m still losing sleep over it," Ross McCausland said with a smile. The 20-year-old would have done well to get any kip after a night that saw him live his dream at Ibrox.

McCausland was referencing the decision to rule out his strike in the win over Livingston earlier this month as he spoke ahead of the visit of Aris Limassol. As it transpired, he didn’t have to wait long to achieve his latest first in a period of maiden moments.

A European debut in Cyprus was followed by a start for his boyhood club in that victory at the Tony Macaroni Arena. International recognition and a debut against Finland followed. On his return to Auchenhowie, he put pen to paper on a deal that committed him to Rangers for the next stage of his fledgling career.

It is one that has gone from strength to strength in a remarkably short period of time. That late cameo off the bench on the night that Rangers lost in Limassol was his first appearance since he made his debut just days before Seville. The lifelong Light Blue was at the final as a supporter. Here, he ensured Philippe Clement’s side kept their Europa League ambitions alive, albeit only just.

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There can be no disguising just how abject a performance and result this was for Rangers. To take a single point from six against the bottom seeds in the section is woeful. A night where Rangers could have had the last 16 in their sights turned into one that left them staring at the unthinkable and an early exit from the competition.

It was an evening where the temperatures plummeted. The showing and contribution of McCausland was one of the few factors that would have raised the spirits of a support that have been let down too many times by this squad. It was perhaps damning that it took the youngest member of the group to stand up and be counted to ensure that Rangers still have continental competition on their agenda.

“European football is now in February and to have that guaranteed is amazing for us and the boys but for us to go into the game against Real Betis with fire in our bellies is now about making sure we get three points from the game,” McCausland said as he looked ahead to the matchday six return to Seville and a must-win fixture for Rangers. “There is confidence we can now go there and win and I don't think that was ever not the case and it was no different tonight. We believe we can win every single game we play in. When we are leading up to games we just look at what is in front of us. It's not on a weekly basis, it's only all about what is immediately in front of us. Our minds are now on St Mirren on Sunday and after that game we will focus on what is next.”

The future is uncertain for Rangers in European terms and a drop into the Conference League would be a lamentable demise for a side that started the campaign with Champions League aspirations. Their ambitions will be defined in Seville and many careers will be determined in the weeks that follow as Clement prepares for his first transfer window at Ibrox.

McCausland’s outlook is more certain. This was further evidence of his potential, but also confirmation that he can be a game-changing presence for Rangers in the here and now.

McCausland knew that this would be a defining campaign for him at Ibrox. As he entered the final 12 months of his contract, it was make or break time. He returned home across the water to prepare for his shot at glory, using the pitches at Chimney Corner FC to work on his fitness and his finishing alongside his father, Alan. It was at the same Allen Park venue that a kid with a natural talent and a willingness to learn had first fallen in love with the game and it is somewhat fitting that the field of dreams in Antrim has allowed him to fulfil his Ibrox ambitions.

It says much about McCausland’s rise and rise that many supporters would have started him in this fixture. In the seconds after he brought Clement’s level, a chant of ‘Ross McCausland, he’s one of our own’ emerged from the Union Bears section in the Broomloan Front.

The forward had taken the acclaim of all of Ibrox just before that. As he watched the ball nestle in the corner of the Aris net, he had already turned to celebrate. Arms outstretched, McCausland would have felt a concoction of emotions run through his veins. He was soon joined by his team-mates, each offering their congratulations before returning to their positions. Rangers still had work to do.

McCausland was alert to the opportunity as Aris squandered possession from a throw-in down their right side. He peeled away on the opposite flank and was found by Danilo. He had time to shift the ball into a shooting position and his finish – low, right-footed and perfectly angled – was beyond Vana. It was a ‘blackout moment’ for the Northern Irishman.

READ MORE: Rangers 1-1 Aris Limassol: McCausland earns point after Cantwell sub

McCausland had emerged from the dugout after 35 minutes and received instructions from his manager while he waited to be given the all-clear to enter the action. As he did so, the home crowd anticipated the board going up, no doubt hastily discussing with those around them whose number they believed would be in red alongside McCausland’s 45.

“The manager just wanted me to have an impact in the one-against-one duals and for me to bring width to the team,” McCausland said. “Overall he just wanted me to have an impact and I was glad I was able to give that to him tonight The frustrating part is that we didn't manage to get the win when you look at all of the chances we had. I had two chances after I scored my goal so it is frustrating not to put them away. I know when I watch those chances back I will be kicking myself.”

The sight of ‘13’ being held aloft provoked quite the reaction. Some would have believed that it was the right call after an ineffective showing from Todd Cantwell, while others – those who booed the decision from Clement – clearly felt that the Englishman had been hard done by. Both opinions were fair and valid and the truth probably lay somewhere in the middle.

Cantwell could have had no complaints about being hooked after giving the ball away needlessly in the build-up to the Aris opener and failing to fulfil Clement's wishes in the forward line. He should, though, not have started in a right-sided berth that clearly doesn’t suit him or the side.

If anything can be taken from the situation he found himself in here, it should be the end of that particular experiment from Clement. Time will tell when Cantwell is seen again. The next appearance that Sam Lammers makes will also be telling.

The introduction of McCausland was the correct call. He entered the field with the words of his manager still fresh in his mind, while Cantwell exited it with only the briefest of cursory exchanges with Clement. His frustration was clear as he made his way to the back row of the dugout.

The playmaker is so often one of those that Rangers turn to in their time of need, one who is expected to provide the goals and the guile to alter the course of matches. This time, it was the man who replaced him who fulfilled that role and that gave Clement’s side hope of victory. It proved to be unfulfilled.

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McCausland almost earned them the three points in a move that was similar to his goal. He again carried a threat from the right but he was crowded out on this occasion, Aris now well aware of his talent. By the time he got a shot away, there were too many bodies blocking his path to the winning goal.

On the whistle, McCausland slumped to the turf, contemplating a night of mixed feelings for a few seconds before getting back to his feet. The boos around Ibrox were a judgement on the collective efforts rather than the individual ones of McCausland. It will be down to others to carry the burden of this latest shambles.

The handshakes with his teammates were well-earned. He swapped his shirt with Caju, the Brazilian left-back that he had tested throughout the evening, before offering applause to those behind the goal and then to the rest of the stadium. Supporters had to appreciate his endeavours and were thankful for his contribution, but the same could not be said of so many of those in blue.

It was a night when McCausland showed that his future could be bright at Ibrox. It was also one that proved that so many of these players should not be around to contribute going forward.