Scottish Cup Final
Rangers turn Europa agony to Hampden joy
Rangers 2 Hearts 0 (aet, full-time 0-0)
Rangers ensured there was no hangover from their Europa League heartbreak, nor any lack of energy in the squad as they came through a second 120-minute match in four days to end the season on a high.
Despite the draining effects of their agonising loss on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were too strong for a Hearts team that had hoped to benefit from the longer rest period.
Rangers shrugged off their ordeal in Spain, deservedly winning the Scottish Cup for the 34th time thanks to goals from Ryan Jack and Scott Wright in extra time.
The triumph ended a 13-year wait for success in the competition, while the loss meant a third Scottish Cup Final defeat in four seasons for Hearts.
The final could be a swan song for some Rangers stars including Allan McGregor – who was brought on as a last minute substitute – Connor Goldson and Steve Davis, but Van Bronckhorst can begin his squad rebuild having won his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.
Goalscorer Wright said: “It means so much. This is the cup you grow up wanting to play in and it’s a dream to score in the final. I’ve been here before with Aberdeen and fallen short. I’m absolutely over the moon to score and even more so to win.”
Team-mate John Lundstram said: “You’d have thought they were the ones that played extra-time midweek. I thought the lads were magnificent, the work-rate from everyone and hopefully, that can set us up to win more trophies going forward now.
“It was tough. I’ve been down for a couple of days I’m not going to lie. After Wednesday night it means everything.”
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronkhorst tells Premier Sports TV: “It’s always good to end the season with a trophy, it’s a positive. We worked really hard and I think we looked much stronger in extra time, and I think we deserved the win today. We’ll need to wait and see what happens but I think we’ll see some changes [to the squad], yes.”
On Allan McGregor’s future, he added: “I don’t know, but I was happy we could put him on as well.”
McGregor said: “I’ll speak to the club soon enough and we’ll take it from there.”
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson said his team are at the beginning of their progression.
“Not winning it is a huge disappointment. We have to take that on the chin, move forward and reflect back and see it’s been a very good season,” he said.
“We’ve come up from the Championship, finished third, secured group stage football, got to a cup final, we just couldn’t take that final wee step.”
On Rangers’ energy levels, he said: “A lot has been made of Wednesday night’s exploits but when you look at the team that went out only four or five of them actually played in it. The two guys they bring on score the goals and that’s the stage where we need to get to, the players we are bringing on are really influencing the game.
“We’ve hard hard times over the last couple of years but we’re getting there. We’re back where we want to be, but we need to build and step forward and come here and win, get closer to the Old Firm, get into the Europa League, but we’re at the start of it now.”
Rangers: McLaughlin (McGregor, 119), Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey, Davis (Jack, 81), Lundstram, Arfield (Kamara, 81), Diallo (Wright, 63), Aribo (Sakala, 106), Kent.
Hearts: Gordon, Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley, Atkinson, Haring, Devlin (McEneff, 106), Cochrane (Mackay-Steven, 100), Boyce (Halliday, 76), Simms, McKay (Ginnelly, 82).
Goals: Rangers – Jack (94), Wright (97).