Thursday, December 8 2022

Rangers won the Scottish Cup for the first time since 2009 as Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Hearts erased the pain of their Europa League final defeat.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were beaten on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt after a 1-1 draw in the club’s first European final for 14 years on Wednesday.

But Rangers bounced back from that bitter loss in Seville by ending their long wait to lift the Scottish Cup.

Ryan Jack and Scott Wright scored in quick succession in extra-time to break Hearts’ stubborn resistence at Hampden Park.

After surrendering the Scottish Premiership title to Glasgow rivals Celtic and coming up just short in Europe, their spirited victory provided an uplifting end to a rollercoaster season for Rangers.

Van Bronckhorst won the Scottish Cup playing with Rangers in 2000 and this was his first trophy since taking over from Steven Gerrard in November.

“It means a lot, I told the players before the game we haven’t won anything yet,” Van Bronckhorst said.

“We worked so hard and came so far in Europe. But in the end, you want to have something in your hands as a reward, and today we did.

“It has been a really demanding week with the (Europa) final and the pressure to get the trophy today.

“We looked much stronger in extra time and we deserved the win. It’s always good to end the season with a trophy.”

Playing 120 gruelling minutes in the heat of Seville could have left Rangers shattered, but they dug deep to see off Hearts.

Rangers forward Joe Aribo was denied by Craig Gordon’s instinctive save with his foot in the closing seconds of normal time before Wright hit the crossbar with a header from James Tavernier’s free-kick.

Jack broke the deadlock four minutes into extra-time with a brilliant long-range strike that gave Gordon no chance as it flashed in off the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Wright took a Ryan pass on the break and drilled his shot low past Gordon to send the blue half of the stadium into delirium.

In an emotional finish, Rangers’ 40-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor took over from Jon McLaughlin in the final seconds in what is expected to be the long-serving star’s last appearance for the club.

smg/ea

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