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Rangers 2-0 Hearts

By Clive Lindsay

Steven Whittaker chases after Rangers scorer Barry Ferguson
Ferguson (right) opened the scoring for Rangers against Hearts

Rangers edged out Hearts in the Hampden Park mud to move into the CIS Insurance Cup final amid controversy over Barry Ferguson's 50th-minute opening goal.

Hearts goalkeeper Steve Banks saved well from Charlie Adam, while Andrius Velicka sent a header against the bar at the other end in an even first half.

Ferguson fired home the winner superbly on the turn, but the Rangers captain had clearly controlled it with his arm.

Jean-Claude Darcheville turned in a Chris Burke cross after 69 minutes.

Rangers now await either Aberdeen or Dundee United, whose semi-final was postponed on Tuesday.

Steven Whittaker had switched to right-back for Rangers following Alan Hutton's 9m transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, with Sasa Papac taking over on the left.


And Lee McCulloch was given a rare chance to shine as a striker in place of Kris Boyd.

Hearts kept the same starting 11 that beat Aberdeen on Saturday, Velicka having recovered from a head knock.

The Lithuanian was given an early chance but curled his shot on the turn wide from 14 yards.

Hearts had started confidently but were thankful to Banks for parrying clear a powerful, 16-yard volley from Adam after the midfielder was found by a Whittaker cross.

Rangers survived appeals for a penalty when Christian Nade, whose powerful running was worrying the Rangers defence, was upended by Carlos Cuellar.

While the infringement was committed outside the penalty box, referee Mike McCurry did not even award a foul.

Jean-Claude Darcheville salutes the Rangers fans
Darcheville secured Rangers' place in the CIS Cup final

It was Rangers' turn to feel hard done-by when Darcheville was sandwiched between Christos Karipidis and Robbie Neilson, but cries of penalty were again ignored by the referee.

Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor was nearly caught out by a looping header from Velicka, but the ball was cleared to safety after striking the top of the crossbar.

Velicka was first to threaten after the break but fired straight at McGregor from the edge of the box.

Rangers had claims for a penalty denied after the ball appeared to strike Jose Goncalves on the hand in the penalty box.

When the ball was turned back into the box by Burke, Ferguson was even more blatant in controlling the ball with his hand before firing home sublimely on the turn from 15 yards.

Rangers began to take control and Banks did well to turn a dangerous, net-bound Darcheville cross on to the crossbar and clear.

But Velicka missed a great opportunity when Nade found his strike partner in space on the edge of the box and the Lithuanian blasted his volley wide.

And Rangers ensured a deserved victory with Darcheville's back-post finish from five yards, after which McGregor denied Eggert Jonsson a late consolation.

Rangers: McGregor, Whittaker, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Ferguson, Hemdani, McCulloch, Burke, Darcheville (Novo 76), Adam.
Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Faye, Broadfoot, Boyd.

Booked: Whittaker, Darcheville, Adam, McCulloch.

Goals: Ferguson 50, Darcheville 69.

Hearts: Banks, Neilson, Karipidis, Berra, Goncalves (Wallace 83), Jonsson, Stewart, Palazuelos, Mikoliunas (Driver 58), Nade (Beniusis 72), Ksanavicius.
Subs Not Used: Basso, McCann.

Att: 31,989

Ref: M McCurry

see also
Ferguson admits to handling ball
30 Jan 08 |  Rangers
CIS Cup picture gallery
30 Jan 08 |  Scotland

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