Rangers March On To CIS Cup Final

Last updated : 30 January 2008 By Southside Johnny
Rangers are through to the League Cup final following
tonight's 2-0 win over Hearts at Hampden Park courtesy
of goals from Barry Ferguson and Jean-Claude

The victory came at a price however - a yellow card
for Charlie Adam means that he will miss the final on
March 16.

Rangers went into this match very much weakened by the
transfer activity thus far in the January window, and
Manager Walter Smith made two changes from Saturday
with Sasa Papac and Lee McCulloch replacing the
departed Alan Hutton and Kris Boyd.

There was a biting wind howling around the oval bowl -
and it was all too clear that the infamous Hampden
Swirl would have an effect on the outcome of the game.

Charlie Adam was first to threaten, being denied in
sixteen minutes when his volley from a Steven
Whittaker cross was parried by Hearts goalkeeper Steve

Five minutes later the first controversial moment of
the evening arrived when Carlos Cuellar tangled with
Christian Nade on the edge of the box. There was a
loud appeal for a penalty - but Referee Mike McCurry
waved play on.

There was an even stronger shout for a spot-kick at
the other end in 34 minutes when Jean-Claude
Darcheville burst through on a Steven Whittaker pass
to be sandwiched between Robbie Neilson and Christos
Karipidis, but again the referee turned a blind eye.

Both sides were striving manfully to secure the
crucial opening goal - and Nade almost snatched it six
minutes later when his dipping header from Eggert
Johsson's cross came back off the top of the crossbar.

It was end-to-end stuff as the interval approached -
with Adam seeing an inswinging wide-angled cross from
fully thirty yards land on the roof of the net, but a
poor first-half ended goalless.

The deadlock was however broken four minutes after the
restart as Rangers attacked incessantly - Adam's
free-kick saw the ball bounce up and clearly strike
Jose Goncalves on the hand. Again McCurry saw nothing
amiss - but when the loose ball was chipped back in by
Chris Burke it again bounced up and struck Ferguson on
the arm, before the Ibrox Captain swivelled to hook it
into the far corner of the net.

The Light Blues went all out for the kill, and
Darcheville came close to adding a second on the hour
when he cut in from the left only to see his chip
touched onto the crosbar and over by Banks.

Within seconds the Hearts defence was split wide open
as Ferguson released Burke down the right, the
winger's cutback alas being sliced wide by Lee

It was not all one-way traffic however - a Ferguson
error at the other end saw Michael Stewart find Nade
who in turn squared for Andrius Velicka who somehow
shot wide.

Darcheville was yellow-carded in 65 minutes for an
off-the-ball incident with Neilson, but within three
minutes it was 2-0 when the former Bordeaux striker
was on hand to touch home a Burke cutback.

Rangers were home and dry, but an inconsistent referee
had at least one more inexplicable decision in him
when he yellow-carded Adam following a clash with
Neilson in 81 minutes, despite the fact that the
free-kick was awarded TO the Ibrox men, a booking that
leaves the Ibrox man suspended for the final.

Three minutes later Ferguson almost added a third when
his chip from a McCulloch flick was just over.

With virtually the last kick of the ball Jonsson might
have struck a consolation goal for Hearts when he was
through on Allan McGregor only for the 'Gers keeper to
block his shot.

Rangers were through, and afterwards Walter Smith

"I'm pleased to be in the final. We deserved to win.
Hearts have a strong physical presence. We had most of
the game on a difficult pitch. I couldn't understand
Charlie Adam's booking."

Perhaps significantly he added:

"I don't think there will be any last-minute transfer

With just 24 hours remaining until the end of the
transfer market, one can only hope and pray for some
last-minute signings down Ibrox way.

RANGERS McGregor; Whittaker, Weir, Cuellar, Papac,
Ferguson; Hemdani, Burke, Darcheville (Novo 75),
McCulloch, Adam
UNUSED SUBS Faye, Broadfoot, Boyd, G. Smith

HEARTS Banks; Neilson, Goncalves (Wallace 83); Berra,
Karipidis, Palazuelos; Jonsson, Nade (Beniusis 71),
Velicka, Stewart, Mikoliunas (Driver 57)

REFEREE Mike McCurry

Attendance 31,989