Malik Tillman is still getting adjusted to life in Scotland as he spends the season with Premiership side Rangers FC, but he has been quickly embraced by the Ibrox faithful following his heroics to help them progress to the Champions League playoff.

Having been shocked in Belgium last week by Union Saint-Gilloise and heading home with a 0-2 defeat, Rangers needed to score thrice if they were to make it to the next round of the Champions League qualifiers.  And it was three goals that they produced at Ibrox last night, coming away with the 3-2 aggregate with a first-half James Tavernier penalty conversion just before the intermission and a pair of net-benders in the second half.

Antonio-Mirko Colak struck just before the hour mark but it was the heroics of American, Malik Tillman who outjumped the USG goalkeeper, Anthony Moris, to head the ball home in the 78th minute for what turned out to be the game-winner.

The 20-year-old loanee from Bayern Munich spoke to the press after the game about the big win and his winning goal.

“It was an amazing feeling,” the German-born American said.  “After the game last week, I think we needed Ibrox; we needed the fans. “(Tonight) we needed a big game and I think we did pretty well.  Thanks to the fans for pushing us every minute, every second.  (The win) was for them.” 

Tillman had nothing but praise for Ibrox’s 12th man.

“It was crazy.  I think if you have these kinds of fans, it’s just an amazing feeling to play in front of them. They push you forward every single second, as I said.  Amazing, just amazing.”

The game-winner came with the clock ticking down and the American was obviously happy to score the winner; happy, yet humble.

“It’s always nice to help the team. It was a win (for) the team; not only for me.”

Having a big game coming up this weekend at home against St. Johnstone and then in the middle of next week they will once again turn to Champions League qualifiers when they host PSV Eindhoven at Ibrox in the first leg of the tie, the American frontman was asked about those games.

“We try to win every game.  We have to focus on every single game. It doesn’t matter which game, just focus on it and try to win.”

Now with this first Rangers’ goal in the bag, Tillman will look to add to his tally when sixth place St. Johnstone makes the 60-mile trip from Perth to the heart of Glasgow for their Saturday afternoon fixture.

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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