Rangers eased into the semi-final of the Scottish Cup with a 4-1 win over Falkirk. Whilst the performance wasn’t as sharp as recent matches, there was more than enough on show to be encouraged by.
Rangers started the match with three changes from the starting team against St Johnstone. Bruno Alves replaced Russell Martin at centre half. The injury to Jamie Murphy meant that Jason Cummings started, and was asked to play on the left. In goals, Jak Alnwick was given a start. Falkirk lined up in their usual 3-5-2 shape, and looked to press high up the pitch from the start of the match.
Rangers started the match pretty brightly. Unfortunately, good passages of play were just unable to find their mark when it came to the final ball. Corners were being cleared, and Falkirk slowed the game down a few times with fouls. However, on 15 minutes, Rangers opened the scoring.
Daniel Candeias picked up the ball in the Falkirk half, and cut inside on the run. Cummings had switched with Morelos to find himself central, and both he and Windass made a great run to get in behind. Candeias slotted the ball through to Cummings who took it to the byline. Falkirk defenders backed off, expecting him to cut it back, but he took an extra touch, got the ball on his left foot, and curled an excellent finish into the far post.
The next major incidents in the match ultimately saw Falkirk equalise 5 minutes later. A free kick on the Rangers left was set to be taken when Bates went down. The referee showed Muirhead a yellow card, and replays showed that he punched Bates in a region some people like to pay to be punched. Falkirk took the free kick, and a weak header by Alves fell to Sibbald on the edge of the box. His shot was going well wide, but it hit Muirhead and deflected into the net with Alnwick stranded.
The Rangers fans were somewhat frustrated, and the Falkirk fans jubilant. That all changed a mere minute later when Rangers regained the lead. Windass found Halliday driving forward from left back. His low cross found Cummings, who was able to turn and get a shot away which was placed into the bottom corner.
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Rangers looked to press home their advantage from there. Cummings laid a ball off for Docherty to strike from the edge of the box, but it went wide. Falkirk were having some moments of play in the Rangers half, and one resulted in a strike from Longridge which went just wide. Five minutes before half time, Sibbald took a free kick which Alnwick had to tip over the bar.
A minute before the break, Rangers extended their lead. Tavernier sent Candeias away with a quick free kick on the right. The winger played a good low cross which looked set to be tapped in by Cummings. Muirhead got to the ball first, but could only put it into his own net. Rangers ended the half two goals up and looking relatively comfortable.
With the game largely won, the second half started somewhat slowly. It took 15 minutes for the first real chance to be created. Candeias found Morelos on the right hand side of the box, but the striker’s effort didn’t have enough power and was easily saved.
Five minutes after that, Cummings was sent through on goal. He took a good touch on his chest to open up the space to run into. With Morelos bursting through the middle looking for a pass, Cummings did what all strikers would do and hit the ball on the volley. The shot was too close to the keeper, and was saved.
Sean Goss had looked a bit tired and off his game, and was replaced on 67 minutes by Holt. The pattern of play didn’t change, though. Candeias found Morelos on the 72nd minute, and his low shot was saved yet again.
With 15 minutes left to play, Cummings completed his hat trick. A great run by Windass saw him and Morelos 2 v 1 on the Falkirk defence. Windass squared the ball, and Morelos had time to set himself and take a shot. His effort was saved, but Cummings was following in and he scored to ensure he could claim the match ball.
Morelos missed the last really good chance of the match when he was played through late on. He tried to take it around the keeper, but the ball was snatched from his feet. It was one of those days for the Colombian striker.
Rangers weren’t at their best, but still won this game convincingly. Falkirk didn’t really play with a completely defensive mindset, which meant that loose moments in the Rangers defence gave them some play in the Rangers half. Ultimately, it was the good attacking movement which made this tie comfortable for Rangers.
Alnwick, Tavernier, Alves, Bates, Halliday, Docherty, Goss (Holt 67’), Candeias (Miller 80’), Windass (Dodoo 80’), Cummings, Morelos.
Subs not used: Foderingham, Martin, Hodson, Herrera.
Thomson, McGhee, Muirhead, Grant (Harris 71’), Taiwo (McKee 57’), Sibbald, Longridge, Tumilty, Jakubiak, Robson, Nelson.
Subs not used: Hazard, Kidd, Blair, Loy, Watson.