IT took until the fourth minute of injury-time at the end of the game, when Alfredo Morelos netted his second of the evening after being sent clean through on goal by a cute Daniel Candeias back heel, for Rangers to kill off Rapid Vienna at Ibrox at the start of October.

But the final outcome of the Europa League group game was no more than Steven Gerrard’s men deserved for their efforts; they dominated from kick-off, recovered well after falling behind against the run of play and should really have sewn up the victory long before the death.

The assured all-round display by James Tavernier and his team-mates and the 3-1 win they recorded have given supporters hope their team can record another victory in Austria this Thursday evening and progress to the knockout rounds of the competition.

Rangers, though, are set to come up against an altogether different Rapid team in the Allianz Stadium than the one they faced in their Group G opener.

Vienna were in turmoil going into their previous meeting. They had sacked their manager Goran Djuricin after winning only two of their opening nine league matches just four days earlier and replaced him with Dietmar Kuhbauer. The game in Govan was their first under their new head coach.

Kuhbauer, the former Rapid, Real Sociedad and Wolfsburg midfielder, struggled initially. His charges were thrashed 5-0 by Villarreal in the El Madrigal three weeks after the Rangers fixture. Since then, however, their form has improved significantly.

Rapid held their Spanish rivals to a 0-0 draw at home in their next group game and followed that up at the end of last month with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Spartak Moscow in Russia to keep alive their own hopes of reaching the last 32.

Heimo Pfeifenberger, the former Rapid striker who played alongside Kuhbauer with Austria in the 1990s, has been impressed by the transformation his old club have undergone under his former colleague. He expects their rematch with Rangers to be a far closer affair.

“The new coach has a strong mentality and he has instilled that in his players since taking over the team,” he said. “They are playing far better under him than they were before he took over. He had only been the coach for two or three days when Rapid played Rangers in Glasgow. Now, they are positive mentally.”

Kuhbauer has switched from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-2-3-1 formation with positive results. Deni Alar, their 6ft 1in striker who remained on the bench at Ibrox, has been restored to the attack. Behind him, Veton Berisha, Boli Bolingoli, Christoph Knasmullner and Thomas Murg vie for a start in the three-quarter line.

Pfeifenberger envisages Rapid posing far more a threat going forward than they did last time around against Rangers when they only scored after the assistant referee failed to spot that Andrei Ivan was was several yards offside before Berisha struck.

“Rapid have good players in attack,” he said. “I played with Kuhbauer in the national team. He was a good technical footballer who could play No 8 or No 10. He understands how to unlock defences and score goals. His team are dangerous with the ball at their feet going forward.”

But it is at the back where the former Wolfsberger manager believes his one-time team mate has made the biggest difference.

“The main thing Dietmar has done since taking over is improve the defence,” he said. “They are far more stable, they let in fewer goals now. That has given them a base to play on.”

The Rapid supporters had turned on their own team following their poor start in the Austrian Bundesliga and that had a detrimental impact on their confidence. But in the Europa League there have been no such problems.

A sell-out crowd of 24,000, which will include Pfeifenberger, will cram into the Allianz Stadium on Thursday optimistic of seeing them beat Rangers and extend their continental campaign into 2019.

“Rapid have played better in the Europa League than they have in the Austrian Bundesliga,” he said. “They have had many problems domestically this season. They have lost a lot of games. Their fans have been very unhappy and that has created a difficult environment for the players to perform in.

“But in the Europa League they have been very good and that has not been the case. The supporters have got behind them and they have been able to play with greater freedom. The win over Spartak last month was a big result for Rapid Vienna and for Austrian football. It was very important.

“The Allianz Stadium will be full and the fans are confident Rapid can get a result and go through. Rapid will have good backing. Rapid also have the most passionate fans in the country. They are loud and will cheer their team for 90 minutes. It is the best atmosphere in Austrian football.”