Rangers march on
Rangers are through to the Scottish FA Cup Final following today's 3-0 win over St. Mirren at Hampden Park with goals from Andrius Velicka, Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller.
Manager Walter Smith made one, enforced, change from Easter Road with Christian Dailly replacing the suspended Sasa Papac.
Rangers got off to the perfect start scoring in the first minute when Steve Davis cut in from the right before finding Kris Boyd whose shot was blocked, the ball falling to Andrius Velicka who rifled home the opening goal. It was the Lithuanian striker's third goal in successive games.
Nine minutes later Pedro Mendes tested Mark Howard with a 25-yard shot from a Velicka lay-off that the Saints' goalkeeper turned wide.
It was not all one-way traffic however - Steven Thomson sending in a 25-yard drive in seventeen minutes that Neil Alexander turned over.
Four minutes later the game threatened to boil over when Maurice Edu reacted to a bad challenge from Stephen McGinn. Referee Calum Murray contented himself with a lecture to both players.
Boyd headed over from a Christian Dailly cross in 25 minutes as the Ibrox men sought to tighten their grip on the game.
The first yellow card of the afternoon was rightly shown to Christian Dailly for a foul on McGinn in 31 minutes - but incredibly the referee took no action whatsoever six minutes later when Will Haining went in high and late, as well as leaving his leg in, on Pedro Mendes. It was a shocking tackle worthy of a red card - but unbelievably Calum Murray did not even award a free-kick.
The Paisley defender was roundly booed by the Light Blue legions thereafter - but was shamefully cheered by his own supporters who were therefore condoning a violent tackle. Mind you as this is the same St. Mirren who when Rangers recently visited their new ground kicked both DaMarcus Beasley and Sasa Papac off the park one should not really be surprised.
Mendes was stretchered off - to be replaced by Nacho Novo with Davis moving inside.
Rangers led at the interval - and five minutes after the restart Velicka almost added a second when his shot from the edge of the box from a Boyd lay-off was held by Howard before being substituted by Kenny Miller just before the hour.
In a lightning break Boyd slotted the ball home from a Davis pass in 65 minutes to make it 2-0. It was the striker's 100th goal for the club.
Sixty seconds later Novo's twenty-yard shot from an Edu lay-off was held by Howard as the Ibrox men turned the screw.
The third goal was merely delayed - Miller trundling the ball home in 69 minutes after his own chip had been nodded down into his path by Davis.
Six minutes later from a Dailly cross Miller might have had another when his shot from point-blank range was blocked by Howard.
Rangers were coasting now - with Davis (surely the best man afield) involved in almost every move. One cutback to Novo might have produced a fourth goal but the little Spaniard stubbed his effort into the arms of Howard in eighty minutes.
There was a debut for Andrew Little immediately thereafter when he came on for Boyd.
Edu had been impressive in the middle of the park - breaking forward in 87 minutes he saw his first shot blocked, his second from the rebound flashing just over.
In the final analysis Rangers had strolled into the final - and afterwards Assistant Manager Ally McCoist summarised:
"We made a dream start - I couldn't believe it - but were disappointing until the second goal. "
On the subject of Kris Boyd:
"It's a fantastic achievement. He played well today and earned his chance."
On the injury suffered by Pedro Mendes:
"He suffered a kick across the knee and is very sore. We will know inside 48 hours. We handled the substitution well. Davis and Edu were very good in the middle of the park."
RANGERS Alexander; Dailly, Weir, Bougherra, Whittaker; Davis, Edu, Mendes (Novo 40), S. Smith; Boyd (Little 80), Velicka (Miller 59)
UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Wilson
ST. MIRREN Howard; Ross, Haining, Cuthbert, Camara; Dorman, Thomson (Burns 87), Murray, McGinn (Brady 65); Mehmet, Wyness (Hamilton 65)
UNUSED SUBS Mathers, Potter
REFEREE Calum Murray