An away win against a Real Betis side formidable at home would’ve been mightily impressive in the best of circumstances. A win given the obstacles that did not stop Rangers’ 3-2 victory in Seville last night made a historic night all the more emphatic.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side had not conceded more than one goal in a game at home all season and held plucky underdogs Real Madrid to a draw at Benito Villamarin days before. Philippe Clement’s men arrived in Spain sapped by injuries but fuelled with belief. The Belgian wanted a brave performance that did not consider the odds and got exactly that. This was a night for the ages.

Rangers did not just win in Spain last night to top their Europa League group and secure a place in the competition’s last 16 - they deserved to. Clement picked a team and game plan to attack the occasion rather than react to the hosts.

Although Betis twice struck the woodwork and enjoyed a spell of pressure after their equaliser which threatened to grab hold of this game’s outcome, it was the visitors who shaded the xG 1.7 to 1.59, thanks in large part to set-pieces. The hosts may well have created a greater number of opportunities, but not a greater value of chance. This was a win that borrowed a dose of luck in stages as opposed to relying on good fortune throughout.

“I want to see a team of winners, that never gives up, a team where everyone is involved, starting or not starting,” Clement reflected after the game in his press conference.

“That’s what they did today. They played a big game. I said before I wanted to see a brave team, not one who only wants to defend but a team that was brave on the ball, playing our football and they did.”

Aside from conceding a spell of sustained pressure highlighted around the 15 to 20-minute mark, Rangers were able to meet their opponents high up the pitch. The plan to trigger pressure and play over or down the sides allowed them to attack the “spaces” identified where Betis could appear vulnerable. Clement’s side used the Spanish outfit’s aggression against them.

Take the first goal as an example of how the Ibrox side manipulated pressure and acted aggressively after losing the ball. It was not all that dissimilar from Abdallah Sima’s winning goal away at Hearts last week.

Below, Rangers break pressure by going around the block and up the line, with James Tavernier continuing his run through the centre and Jose Cifuentes clearing the space with a decoy run as Ross McCausland plays a perfect return bounce pass.

The angles don’t quite match up to find Sima’s run initially from the left and Cyriel Dessers can’t latch onto the pass.

However, as the ball is worked back to Rui Silva in goals, the visitors keep pushing forward. Although unable to exploit the space their press-baiting has created initially, Rangers can still win the second ball and create Sima’s opener. Yet again, as covered in midweek, Sima’s vertical running to become a second striker from the left worked wonders. He took the ball off of Dessers' toes just as he did when Cantwell had possession before the opener against St Mirren and scored after occupying the centre-forward spot when the team's No.9 had moved to the right once again.

The game’s second goal was also an example of the away side attacking spaces down the side of the Betis defence and exposing the numbers committed to press high up the pitch. The origin point? A throw-in.

READ MORE: Abdallah Sima is already playing as a No.9 for Rangers - here's the proof

Look at Clement in the below frame - pointing at Cifuentes. Rangers have started to make a habit of being inventive in these situations instead of aimlessly lobbing the ball down the line. This moment showed the benefits of maximising small margins.

Clement doesn’t want the ball to go to Cifuentes immediately. Instead, he motions for the midfielder to move forward, where he can act as the free third man if Dessers can find him with a cushioned header.

Barisic throws the ball to Dessers who find Cifuentes well. And suddenly, from a seemingly futile position, the visitors have a three-vs-two transition. It’s small details, but Clement is not one to skip marginal gains.

From that point onwards, Dessers was finally able to score a goal that’s featured on past highlight reels without yet being witnessed at Ibrox. A perfectly weighted pass from Cifuentes allows him to cut inside and front up his marker before fainting to shoot on his right while shifting the ball onto his left-hand side. A composed strike through the legs of the keeper would follow.

Clement showed Dessers clips on the plane over to Seville highlighting some areas requiring individual improvement. The Nigerian striker enjoyed a better first 45 minutes outside of his finish, winning 57 percent of the aerial duels he contested. As shown at the first goal, even when initial contact was not won, Dessers normally offered his side something to hold onto.

Dujon Sterling’s introduction may well have been forced but it was impactful. Only Tavernier made more tackles and interceptions than the half-time substitute who was busy in the middle.

Because Rangers’ method of ball progression is rarely through the centre of midfield at present, Sterling’s role features similarities to his spot at full-back. The 23-year-old can use his engine to get around the pitch, pick up second balls, run the inside right channel and track opposing midfielders into the defence.

Take this example when Tavernier loses the ball as his team seeks to build beyond pressure. Sterling’s recovery run and tackle prevents Isco from carrying the ball at the edge of the box.

Moments later, look at the ground the defender makes up to close down Isco and then win Tavernier’s duel for him after Betis played over the press themselves.

Partnering John Lundtrsm in midfield, back to his European best on a Thursday night, Clement’s threadbare squad options played their hearts out. A set-piece goal turned in by Kemar Roofe was enough to secure a deserved victory.

“I wanted to see a team with balls, a brave team," the Rangers manager told TNT Sports. "A team that wanted to create and score goals, not only defend against a class team. I got what I asked for from the boys.”

Since arriving in mid-October, Clement has sought to not only stabilise the team’s mentality but improve it. While Sunday will be the true test of what's growing in the Ibrox dressing room, last night felt significant. 

Despite their circumstances, Rangers did not alter expectations. Clever tactical details matched with a team fighting in tandem was enough to secure one of the great European away days in living memory.