Alfredo Morelos equalled Ally McCoist’s European scoring record for Rangers to end a frustrating night against Lech Poznan with a one-goal victory.
The Colombian striker came off the bench to head in a Borna Barisic cross for his 21st goal in 36 European games.
It means Rangers and Benfica, 3-0 winners over Standard Liege, top Group D after two successive wins.
But Steven Gerrard’s side struggled to break down a side sitting 10th in Poland’s top flight.
Morelos had to settle for a place on the bench behind Kemar Roofe after the English striker’s stunning goal from his own half in Belgium last week but responded by ending his six-game scoring drought.
It means Rangers head for Portugal next week for a top-of-the-table battle on the back of a 16-game unbeaten run.
The Scottish Premiership leaders began strong favourites after an impressive 2-0 opening group stage win over Liege while Lech opened with a 4-2 defeat at home to Benfica.
However, Gerrard had warned that the Ekstraklasa strugglers were capable of a dangerous attacking game and so it proved in the early stages.
You could see why the Poles had won five in a row away from home before losing on their last trip from Poznan to Jagiellonia Bialystok.
Lech head coach Dariusz Zuraw encourages his players to play from the back even in the tightest positions and, although it produced some hair-raising moments, their ability to hold on to the ball left Rangers looking lacklustre for much of the opening 45 minutes.
It could have been worse, with visiting midfielder Dani Ramirez shooting just wide and Mikael Ishak, who scored his side’s two goals against Benfica, threatening with a shot on the turn after incisive forays forward.
Fear of being caught on the break appeared to inhibit Rangers’ own attacking intent and their only first-half effort came from an Roofe overhead kick that lacked last week’s accuracy.
The Lech defence had been superbly marshalled by Thomas Rogne, the former Celtic centre-half who returned to Lech’s starting line-up to captain his side, until increasing second-half pressure produced the one chance that mattered.
Not for the first time, a trademark outswinging Barisic cross and Morelos’ six-yard box bravery made the difference that puts Rangers in a strong position to qualify for the knock-out stage after just two games.
Man of the match – Glen Kamara
What did we learn?
Rangers’ impressive start to the season has come at the same time as Morelos’ form and influence has been on the wane.
With summer signings Roofe and Cedric Itten challenging him for a starting place, he has looked out of sorts and even more sullen, so Gerrard will hope that finally equalling McCoist’s record will be the catalyst to a rediscovery of scoring form that can only further boost Rangers’ hopes of silverware.
Rangers continue to look more effective away from home when they can catch opponents on the break rather than be expected to break down a stubborn defence and Lech did enough to suggest they will not be easily beaten on their own patch in the return.
In Tymoteusz Puchacz and Vasyl Kravets they have dangerous full-backs while 18-year-old midfielders Jakub Kaminski and Filip Marchwinski show promise.
What the stats say
- Including qualifying rounds, Rangers have lost just one of their last 20 home games in European competitions (W14 D5).
- Rangers have won their last five matches in European competition, netting 14 goals and conceding just once.
- Lech Poznan have won just one of their last nine Europa League matches (D2 L6), winning 2-1 at Fiorentina in October 2015.
- Rangers have won each of their last four matches against Polish opposition in major European competition (excluding qualifiers).
- Alfredo Morelos has scored more Uefa Cup/Europa League goals than any other Rangers player, scoring his ninth goal in his 16th appearance for the club.
Rangers have the chance to stretch their lead over reigning Scottish champions Celtic to nine points when they visit Kilmarnock on Sunday before heading to Portugal in Benfica as Lech visit Znicz Pruszcow before hosting Liege in a battle for both side’s first Europa League points.
- 6GoldsonBooked at 51mins
- 26BalogunBooked at 46mins
- 37ArfieldSubstituted forJackat 80′minutes
- 7HagiSubstituted forAriboat 69′minutes
- 25RoofeSubstituted forMorelosat 63′minutes
- 14KentSubstituted forBarkerat 81′minutes
- 4Pauck Rogne
- 21SkorasSubstituted forSykoraat 75′minutes
- 11MarchwinskiSubstituted forAwaedat 82′minutes
- 10Ramírez FernándezSubstituted forKacharavaat 88′minutes
- 9IshakBooked at 16mins
Match ends, Rangers 1, Lech Poznan 0.
Second Half ends, Rangers 1, Lech Poznan 0.
Hand ball by Nika Kacharava (Lech Poznan).
Attempt blocked. Jakub Moder (Lech Poznan) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jan Sykora.
Attempt missed. Mohammed Awaed (Lech Poznan) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Alan Czerwinski.
Offside, Rangers. Ryan Jack tries a through ball, but Alfredo Morelos is caught offside.
Substitution, Lech Poznan. Nika Kacharava replaces Daniel Ramírez.
Attempt missed. Mikael Ishak (Lech Poznan) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Vasyl Kravets.
Attempt missed. Brandon Barker (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Joe Aribo.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Thomas Pauck Rogne.
Substitution, Lech Poznan. Mohammed Awaed replaces Filip Marchwinski.
Substitution, Rangers. Brandon Barker replaces Ryan Kent.
Substitution, Rangers. Ryan Jack replaces Scott Arfield.
Attempt missed. Filip Marchwinski (Lech Poznan) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alan Czerwinski with a cross.
Attempt missed. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by James Tavernier.
Substitution, Lech Poznan. Jan Sykora replaces Michal Skoras.
Attempt missed. Jakub Moder (Lech Poznan) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Ramírez with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Lech Poznan. Conceded by Steven Davis.
Attempt saved. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Scott Arfield.
Corner, Lech Poznan. Conceded by Leon Balogun.