A much-changed Rangers starting XI impressed in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Annan Athletic which sent the Gers through the Quarterfinals of the cup without having to break their stride.
First-half goals from Filip Helander, Kemar Roofe, and Fashion Sakala were enough to wrap the match up before the interval as three key talking points emerged from the win.
Key players got a rest as Borussia Dortmund tie looms
With the crucial Europa League playoff tie lurking right around the corner, it was an opportunity for Gio to rest some of our key men and give minutes to those that need them.
It was great to see new signing Mateusz Zukowski start his first Gers match as he looked to impress the manager and with the likes of James Sands, Kemar Roofe, and Aaron Ramsey all being handed the opportunity from the off, then it can only benefit the team in the long run.
There will be trickier ties ahead and distributing game time to those that require it was a solid strategy from the manager that paid dividends.
A welcome return for Filip Helander
GvB had confirmed in his press conference on Friday that Filip Helander would be involved for the side against Annan, but seeing the Swede actually start was a welcome boost.
Helander has been out injured since September 11 when he suffered a knee injury against St Johnstone, and he has been sorely missed.
He is arguably our best defender when fully fit and demonstrated his presence in the air by scoring a header in the 3-0 win over Annan.
The manager brought him off after an hour in what was a likely precautionary measure, but just seeing the 28-year-old playing again will boost the squad.
Another youth starlet makes their debut in the Scottish Cup
Alex Lowry had his turn against Stirling Albion in the last round, now it was the turn of fellow starlet, Charlie McCann, to feature for the side.
The Ibrox side signed the 19-year-old from Manchester Utd in the summer and he has been playing in the B team. although he has made the bench for the first team recently without making an appearance, suggesting that a debut was nearing.
With many players rested, McCann finally made his debut for the club and didn’t disappoint during his 20-minute cameo. If it weren’t for a smart save from Annan keeper Greg Fleming, then he would have followed in the footsteps of Lowry and notched a debut goal.
Just like his teammate, I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of the Irishman in the starting XI.
Rangers will be aiming to win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 2009 by the end of the campaign.