RANGERS MARCH ON - Rangers 3-0 Falkirk - League Cup Semi-Final

Last updated : 28 January 2009 By Southside Johnny
Rangers 3 (Novo 2 [8, 39], Boyd 87) Falkirk 0

Attendance 24,507

Manager Walter Smith made three changes from Aberdeen with Steven Naismith, Kris Boyd and Nacho Novo replacing John Fleck, Kenny Miller and Lee McCulloch.

The Ibrox men - wearing their red change strip - faced a side containing two former Rangers players in Steven Pressley and Neil McCann, the winger seeking a record fourth final appearance with four different clubs (having also played for Dundee and Hearts).

It was the underdogs who almost made a stunning start in two minutes when Steve Lovell was through on a Patrick Cregg pass only for Allan McGregor to block his effort.

Three minutes later the same player almost took advantage of a Kirk Broadfoot error - his eighteen-yard shot being turned wide by McGregor.

Falkirk were made to pay for those misses - Rangers taking the lead in eight minutes when Novo stabbed the ball home after a Pedro Mendes corner had been flicked on by Madjid Bougherra.

The Cup Holders had come alive - and Boyd came close to adding a second nine minutes later when his overhead kick from a Barry Ferguson chip was just wide.

Boyd almost turned provider in 26 minutes when his cutback found Naismith whose shot was blocked - the loose ball falling to Mendes whose twenty-yarder was deflected wide.

It was all Rangers - Naismith's volley from a Mendes corner flashing wide of the target on the half-hour mark.

Mendes was in superb form in the middle of the park - another slide-rule pass in 38 minutes finding Boyd whose whose shot was parried by 'Bairns' goalkeeper Dani Mallo.

The second goal was merely delayed however - sixty seconds later Novo raced through on a Steve Davis pass to net from an acute angle.

Novo came close to making it a hat-trick two minutes after the restart when he was through on a Kirk Broadfoot pass only to drive wide.

Falkirk were not out of it however - Lee Bullen's back-header from a McCann corner being touched over by McGregor in 52 minutes, then Scott Arfield's eighteen-yard drive from the next corner was just over.

Davis almost brought the house down in 63 minutes when his mazy run ended with a fifteen-yard shot that was touched wide by Mallo.

Five minutes later a Boyd - Novo move ended with a scissors-kick from the centre that struck the crossbar.

Fleck replaced Naismith in 76 minutes - and the youngster almost made an instant impact when his left-wing run ended with a cross to Boyd whose shot on the turn was blocked, as was Davis' effort from the rebound.

Ferguson limped off in 85 minutes, to be replaced by Lee McCulloch - and the win was wrapped up soon afterwards when Boyd disposessed Mallo some thirty yards out and coolly stroked the ball into the empty net.

Rangers were in the final - and afterwards a relaxed Walter Smith looked back:

"I'm pleased to get to the final. We started slowly and Falkirk had a couple of chances. The goal settled us. It was a comfortable win in the end. We played well on an awkward surface."

On 'Man of the Match' Nacho Novo the Ibrox Boss stated:

"He did well. His enthusiasm is a big factor in his play. He does a great job for us, and never lets us down."

RANGERS McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Bougherra, Papac; Davis, Mendes, Ferguson (McCulloch 85), Naismith (Fleck 76); Boyd, Novo
UNUSED SUBS Whittaker, Alexander, Miller

FALKIRK Mallo; Bullen (Higdon 59), Scobbie; Pressley, McNamara, Barr; McCann, Cregg (Stewart 69), Lovell, Arfield, McBride
UNUSED SUBS O'Brien, Holden, Olejnik

REFEREE Charlie Richmond