First team

Match Report: Rangers 2-0 Hearts

21 April 2024

Hearts exited the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage, losing 2-0 to Rangers at Hampden.


Despite a spirited performance, goals in each half from Cyriel Dessers were enough to take the Ibrox side through to the competition’s final.


Head Coach Steven Naismith made three changes from the side that completed a thrilling comeback win over Livingston a week previous. Stephen Kingsley, Alan Forrest and Kenneth Vargas were in from the start, with Yutaro Oda, Barrie McKay and Alex Cochrane moving to the bench.


It was Rangers who carved out the game’s first opportunity, three minutes in. Abdallah Sima’s cross from the right was met inside the box by Cyriel Dessers but he could only head well over the target.


He made up for it minutes later, however. Todd Cantwell fed him inside the area and the striker twisted away from his marker before firing low into the bottom corner to give Rangers the lead.


Proceedings calmed down somewhat as Hearts began to take over the possession stakes. An opportunity presented itself 23 minutes in when Vargas broke forward, but with Atkinson tearing down the right he elected to shoot from distance and dragged his effort wide of Jack Butland’s left-hand post.


Moments later Butland denied Hearts a certain equaliser. Lawrence Shankland’s looping cross into the middle saw Frankie Kent peel away from his man and lunge to divert the ball goalward, but the Rangers keeper made a point-blank stop to keep the score at 1-0.


From the resultant corner, Kingsley rose highest to connect but send his header flying over the bar.


At the other end James Tavernier was teed up outside the Hearts box but his effort was saved by Craig Gordon.


Though there were no more chances in the half the tempo remained high, and this continued into the restart.


Twice the Jambos worked their way into the Rangers box but on both occasions the final pass was lacking, while just after the hour mark Mohamed Diomande carried the ball though the middle before flashing an effort wide of the target.


Hearts went close with 17 minutes remaining. Substitute McKay’s ball into the box was cleared only as Cammy Devlin, who found Yutaro Oda but his low shot was deflected just wide of the post.


From the corner, McKay chipped the ball to the back door for the unmarked Shankland but he could only bullet a header into the side net.


Against the run of play, Rangers doubled their lead on 77 minutes. Todd Cantwell ran the length of the half into the Hearts box before finding Dessers, and although Gordon pulled off a great save to deny him, the striker collected the rebound before slotting home to make it 2-0.


Fabio Silva passed up a great chance to make it three late on when he fell over with the goal at his mercy, while Oda forced a good save out of Butland before Dessers missed a chance at a hat-trick.


A much-improved performance from the Jambos’ last Hampden outing but, ultimately, the same disappointing result. All attentions now turn to Rugby Park on Saturday where three points will clinch third place in the cinch Premiership along with guaranteed group stag European football.


Rangers: Butland, Tavernier, Lundstram, Souttar, Dessers, Cantwell (Lawrence, 79’), Matondo (Silva, 63’), Sima (McCausland, 15’), Sterling (Barisic, 79’), Balogun, Diomande (Raskin, 79’). Subs: McCrorie, Goldson, Dowell, Roofe.


Hearts: Gordon, Kent, Kingsley, Baningime, Grant (McKay, 60’), Shankland, Atkinson (Lembikisa, 60’), Devlin, Rowles, Forrest (Oda, 60’), Vargas. Subs: Clark, Cochrane, Denholm, Tait, Fraser, Tagawa.


Referee: Steven MacLean