Football: Rangers coast into the final

Rangers 5 Airdrieonians 0
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The Independent Online
RANGERS RARELY broke sweat as they eased themselves into the Scottish League Cup final yesterday. Having won in Germany against Bayer Leverkusen in their last competitive match, the First Division side were never realistically going to stand in the way of a Rangers team which is improving in confidence having gone now 17 games without defeat.

And so it proved with Airdrie having neither the strength nor the skills required to put serious pressure on the Rangers defence. While the afternoon promised to be a hard shift for them, they made the task that much harder by gifting Rangers the first goal as early as the sixth minute. John Martin, the veteran Airdrie goalkeeper, placed a kick-out to the feet of Jonatan Johansson then compounded his error by coming off his line to give the winger an easy task in lifting the ball over the goalkeeper's head before scoring.

Martin produced a couple of decent saves thereafter, one from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and one from an Andrei Kanchelskis drive. The second goal however, was merely delayed and it arrived in the 34th minute when Johansson lofted a cross from the right for Ian Ferguson to dive at with a firm header. With the second goal it appeared that Airdrie's chances had gone. Rangers although not at their best, were certainly on top and held enough fire power to threaten further goals.

A predictable surge from the First Division side after the interval saw two headers, from Austin McCann and Forbes Johnston fall wide of the post. The Lanarkshire side contained their Rangers for long periods in the second half but just as it appeared the game might peter out, Rangers stepped up a gear and added another three goals.

In the 72nd minute a long clearance by Colin Hendry set Rod Wallace clear who stepped around Martin before scoring the third goal. Five minutes later Wallace added a fourth with a slight touch to send a through ball into the bottom corner.

A plus point for Rangers was the return from injury of Artur Numan their Dutch midfielder and they had the further consolation of a first competitive goal from Gordon Durie since his comeback from injury. It was the goal of the game, a sweeping move in the last minute finished by a glorious shot which added an emphatic finish to the afternoon's proceedings.

Rangers will meet either Hearts or St Johnstone in the final and few would bet against them with the belief among the Ibrox players that this team can still get better.

Goals: Johansson (6) 1-0; I Ferguson (34) 2-0; Wallace (72) 3-0; Wallace (77) 4-0; Durie (89) 5-0.

Rangers (4-4-2): Charbonnier; Porrini, Wilson, Hendry, Vidmar; Kanchelskis, B Ferguson, Van Bronckhorst (Numan, 73), Albertz (I Ferguson, 22); Wallace, Johansson (Durie, 64).

Airdrieonians (5-4-1): Martin; Stewart, Jack (Evans, 82), Sandison, Smith, McCann; Moore (Johnston, 23), Wilson, Black, McGrillen; Cooper. Substitute not used: Farrell.

Referee: Kenny Clark (Paisley).

Bookings: Airdrie: McCann, Sandison.

Attendance: 21,171.

Man of the match: Wallace.

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