The Bank of Scotland Premier League side booked a place in the lucrative group stages last night with a 2-0 defeat of Anorthosis Famagusta sealing a 4-1 aggregate success in the third qualifying round tie.
McLeish said: “We’re delighted to get through the tie because it was a bit edgy at times. But it’s fantastic and exciting to be in the second round draw.”
Two individual goals of the highest calibre from Thomas Buffel and Dado Prso allowed Rangers to book their passage although, overall, it was not as comfortable as that scorelines suggests.
: Waterreus, Ricksen, Pierre-Fanfan, Rodriguez, Ball, Ferguson, Murray, Lovenkrands, Buffel (McCormack 74), Novo, Prso (Thompson 66).
: Georgallides, Poursaitides, Katsabakis, Louka, Xenidis, Haber, Maragos (Konstantinou 52), Nikolaou, Ketsbaia (Samaras 64), Tsitaishvili (Tsolakides 72), Frousos.
: Valentin Ivanov (Russia).
Ajax were pushed all the way by Brondby in Amsterdam before finally booking their place in the Champions League group stages.
The Eredivisie giants fell behind in the dying minutes of the first half to a goal from Johan Elmander but battled back after the break for a 3-1 victory.
Ryan Babel levelled for Danny Blind’s side in the 50th minute before Wesley Sneijder came off the bench to seal a 5-3 aggregate win for the hosts with two goals in the last 10 minutes.
Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan also held off a plucky challenge from Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk with a 1-1 draw at the San Siro.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Inter put the tie beyond any real doubt when Alvaro Recoba put them in front in the 12th minute. Elano Blumer pulled one back for the visitors but Mancini’s side went through 3-1 on aggregate.
Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen produced one of the performances of the night to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit courtesy of a 3-0 home win over Basle.
Ivan Klasnic fired them in front after 65 minutes, Tim Borowski netted from the spot two minutes later and Klasnic (72) pounced again to make it three goals in seven second-half minutes.
Elsewhere, Belgian league leaders Anderlecht made light work of their second leg with Slavia Prague with a 2-0 away victory.
Belgian outfit Club Brugge overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit to sneak past Norwegian side Valerenga 4-3 on penalty kicks at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
Brugge, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, looked to be heading out of the competition until former Aston Villa striker Bosko Balaban levelled the aggregate scores in the 79th minute.
In the shoot-out, substitute Bernt Hulsker and Freddy Dos Santos both missed for the away side and it was left to Balaban to fire his side into tomorrow’s draw from 12 yards.