Rangers v Hearts: Routes to the Scottish Cup final
Rangers hope to bounce back from their Europa League heartache when they take on Hearts in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park this weekend.
Here, we look at the routes to the Scottish Cup final of both teams for Saturday’s game for which the Light Blues are the 2/7 favourites to win the trophy.
Rangers 4 Stirling 0
Gers were hit with a major blow in the fourth round when Ianis Hagi suffered a knee injury which ruled him out for the season. There was an immediate consolation when the midfielder’s replacement, 18-year-old Alex Lowry, scored a debut goal.
James Tavernier’s penalty and goals from Cedric Itten and Fashion Sakala made it a comfortable Friday night for Rangers. Lowry told Premier Sports: “It’s a dream come true. I have been here since I was 10 and scoring out there was just a dream.”
Annan 0 Rangers 3
Aaron Ramsey made his first start in a much-changed team at Galabank. Filip Helander headed the opener on his comeback from injury and Kemar Roofe netted before Sakala’s cross flashed into the top corner.
Ramsey said: “It was very important for me because it was my first start in a long time. I was always going to be a little bit rusty but I’m glad I got 60 minutes in the legs again. I’m feeling good. I’m building everything week by week and hopefully I can start more regularly and help the team. I’m glad to be here and enjoying my football again.”
Dundee 0 Rangers 3
The Light Blues cruised into the semi-finals with a comfortable win over the cinch Premiership strugglers. Connor Goldson hit an early opener, Tavernier scored another penalty and Sakala got his third goal of the tournament.
Van Bronckhorst said: “I said to the players we need to show our energy and drive to go all the way. It’s been a while since we won the cup and that’s our drive.”
Celtic 1 Rangers 2
Rangers were underdogs going into the semi-finals after losing two league derbies in 2022 and going 120 minutes against Braga in the Europa League less than three days before the Hampden clash.
The odds were further stacked against them when Greg Taylor put Celtic in front. But substitute Scott Arfield levelled and Rangers looked stronger in extra-time before Sakala claimed the late winner, although Carl Starfelt was credited with an own goal.
Van Bronckhorst said: “It was a very proud moment for me to see my side play like that. We had to dig deep after a demanding game against Braga. But I think our character was phenomenal, especially because we knew that Celtic were coming at us fresh.”
Auchinleck Talbot 0 Hearts 5
Hearts faced a test of their character and progress in the fourth round after being paired with another of Scotland’s top non-league teams 12 months after their shock defeat by Brora Rangers. They came through it with flying colours in Ayrshire.
Liam Boyce scored a double and had two goals wrongly disallowed for offside while Andy Halliday, Peter Haring and Alex Cochrane were also on target.
Manager Robbie Neilson said: “We want to try and get as far as we can in this competition and I spoke to them before the game about how you have to get over different challenges.”
Hearts 0 Livingston 0
The Jambos could not find a way through their stubborn cinch Premiership rivals over 120 minutes at Tynecastle but Craig Gordon sealed a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win when he saved from Ayo Obileye.
Neilson said: “If I was an opposition player stepping up and Craig Gordon was in goal I would have a squeaky bum, that’s for sure.”
Hearts 4 St Mirren 2
Aaron McEneff made his mark off the bench after the Buddies came back from two goals down in the quarter-finals. Beni Baningime and Peter Haring put Hearts in the driving seat but Eamonn Brophy netted before Connor Ronan struck one of the goals of the tournament.
Irish midfielder McEneff put the hosts back in front within seconds of coming off the bench and then sent up Ellis Simms for the fourth.
Neilson said: “It was an unbelievable strike from Ronan. I was standing behind it and was delighted that he hit it from that angle. But I ended up clapping it because it was a sensational goal. It took that to get them equal to us. But we then made the change and we dominated after that.”
Hearts 2 Hibernian 1
The Jambos held off their 10-man city rivals after terrific strikes from Simms and Stephen Kingsley put them in command. Chris Cadden quickly pulled one back and Hibs pushed all the way despite Joe Newelll’s red card.
The win, coupled with Hearts’ third-placed finish, ensured European group-stage football for next season.
Neilson said: “It has been a good season. Today makes it a really good one. Can we make it a great one in the final?”