Sloppy Rangers oust Falkirk

 

Dick Advocaat sounded more like the opposition than the Rangers coach when he savaged his cup semi-finalists after a palpably fortunate victory over a thrillingly resistant Falkirk.

"I'm not happy at all," said the demanding Dutchman. "We had some very poor performances. In fact, only one player played well and that was Lorenzo Amoruso." Falkirk's goal from David Moss, sandwiched between the winners', looked likely to bring them a deserved replay, but they even had opportunities to win the game. It is some time since Rangers supporters were heard whistling for the final whistle in a cup-tie which the only tempting odds would have involved a correct score of 50 and upwards.

It was symbolic of the home team's slow start that it took them 10 minutes to win a corner kick and a full 33 minutes to inspire Paul Mathers into the outstanding work which would keep his team level until he himself, with cruel irony, made the error which brought Rangers the lead.

With a fluid 3-5-2 matching Rangers' own formation, Falkirk operated the system with energy and commitment, characterised by the interceptive work of Martin Corrigan, Scott Crabbe, Scott McKenzie and David Moss in midfield and the towering resistance of Kevin James, Ivo den Bieman and David Sinclair in central defence.

That first on-target attempt by Rangers came from Stephane Guivarc'h, the Frenchman powerfully first-timing Barry Ferguson's pass and forcing Mathers to make the block. That heralded the long odds-on favourites' first sustained period of pressure.

Mathers followed up by holding Lorenzo Amoruso's volley under the crossbar and topped all he had done before with a quick dive to his left to foil Guivarc'h, who this time had met Andrei Kanchelskis's cut-back from the right and had seemed certain to score with his right-foot shot from only eight yards.

It was from Van Bronckhorst's corner kick on the right that Mathers finally slipped, allowing what should have been a straightforward cross to slip through and on to the head of Neil McCann, who had only to steer it over the line from two yards.

Rangers themselves were dishevelled when Moss equalised with a well-struck left-foot volley on the turn from six yards after a long throw had caused disarray and led to two shots from Keith and McKenzie to be blocked before Moss capitalised on the loose ball.

But, after Scott Crabbe had volleyed the ball of Stefan Klos with the goal at his mercy from eight yards, Amoruso strolled forward without a challenge and sent a low, bouncing shot to the right of Mathers from 25 yards.

Rangers: Klos; Porrini, Amoruso, Vidmar (Amato 66); Kanchelskis, Ferguson, Albertz, van Bronckhorst, McCann (Wilson 85); Guivarc'h (Johansson 50), Wallace.

Falkirk: Mathers; Sinclair, Den Bieman, James; Corrigan, McKenzie, Crabbe (Hutchison 85), Moss, McQuilken; McAllister, Keith.

Referee: J Rowbotham (Kirkcaldy).