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Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 17:46 UK

St Johnstone 1-1 Rangers

By David McDaid

Rangers' Neil Alexander
Alexander saved two spot kicks for Rangers

Rangers are through to the Scottish Cup final after a penalty shoot-out win over St Johnstone at Hampden Park.

Following a goalless 90 minutes, Daniel McBreen headed the Perth side into an extra-time lead at the back post.

Nacho Novo then levelled from the spot after Kevin Rutkiewicz was adjudged to have fouled Daniel Cousin.

Novo hit the post in the final stages, and in the penalties that followed Neil Alexander was the hero with saves from Steven Milne and Jody Morris.

Walter Smith's line-up indicated he had on eye on the club's forthcoming busy schedule.

Only Christian Dailly and Carlos Cuellar survived from the team that lost to Celtic as Walter Smith made nine changes.

St Johnstone midfielder Morris passed a fitness test, and showed he was fighting fit by putting in a couple of hard tackles early on.

Smith was forced to shuffle his pack after only 10 minutes when Chris Burke was caught on the ankle by Kevin Rutkiewicz as the St Johnstone defender played a pass.

Clearly in some distress, Burke left the field on a stretcher to be replaced by Thomas Buffel.

With no chances at either end, the Rangers manager found himself the busiest man in Hampden, making his second change on 18 minutes.

Steven Naismith had received an accidental stamp on the knee from Martin Hardie.

The midfielder appeared well enough to continue, before collapsing on the turf with no player around him.

Mid-way through the half, Buffel thought he had given his side the lead, but the Belgian had strayed just offside before poking the ball home from six yards.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Saints defender Goran Stanic then handed Nacho Novo a golden opportunity to score with a slack pass-back which was not helped by the sticky Hampden turf.

But Novo shot wide under pressure from the on-rushing Main.

St Johnstone were holding Rangers, but toiled to create any scoring opportunities, and it looked like a matter of time before the Ibrox side opened their account.

But they were unable to do so and their fans vented their displeasure at halftime whistle.

Walter Smith's men begain the second 45 with more urgency and Steven Whittaker swung in a cross towards Novo, but Main was again alert to tip over the bar.

Saints' Milne had a rare sight at goal, but was unable to keep his shot down from 14 yards, while at the other end Novo spurned another chance by shooting straight at Main.

Milne made Alexander dive low to save his flick from sneaking into the bottom corner as St Johstone crept more into the game.

Main again came to St Johnstone's rescue, coming quickly off his line to gather when Novo had put Cousin through.

With three minutes of regulation time to go Davis watched his goal-bound diving header hacked clear by Liam Craig, as the Perth side forced extra-time.

Daniel McBreen of St Johnstone
McBreen celebrates his goal

And three minutes into overtime Daniel McBreen gave St Johnstone a shock lead, nodding Sheerin's cross into the corner of the Alexander's net.

But Rangers were handed a lifeline when referee Dougie McDonald pointed to the spot for Rutkiewicz's foul on Cousin, and Novo stepped up to hammer the ball low past Main.

Milne had an excellent chance to win the day for Saints, but blasted his shot over from inside the box.

Novo then hit the post in the dying minutes, and Buffel was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty as he was caught while attempting to reach the rebound.

Milne and Brahim Hemdani missed for each side in the ensuing the penalty shoot-out, before Jody Morris' miss left Daniel Cousin the task of sending Rangers into the final.


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: St Johnstone's Alan Main 7.62 (on 90 minutes).

* Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
McCoist has sympathy for Saints
20 Apr 08 |  Rangers
McInnes proud of players' effort
20 Apr 08 |  St Johnstone
Live - Scottish Cup semi-final
20 Apr 08 |  Scottish Cups
Rangers Player Rater
17 Jan 07 |  Live Text


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