Kenny Miller's late header gave nine-man Rangers a 1-0 victory over St Mirren in a dramatic Co-operative Insurance Cup final at Hampden yesterday.
The game exploded in the 53rd minute when the Rangers midfielder Kevin Thomson was deservedly sent off for a needless and lunging tackle on his St Mirren namesake, Steven Thomson.
Then the teenaged defender Danny Wilson also saw red for a last-man challenge on the Buddies substitute Craig Dargo, leaving Rangers two men short for the last 20 minutes.
But with six minutes remaining, the Scotland striker Miller rose to head substitute Steven Naismith's cross past Paul Gallacher and complete the first part of a possible domestic treble for Walter Smith's men.
Smith said: "I am delighted – at one stage it was unlikely that we would win. The first ordering-off, in the context of some of the challenges that had gone before, might have been a bit harsh. [In] the second one, young Danny misjudged the ball coming down. By the laws of the game at the present moment, I don't think the referee had any other options than to do what he did. But there was nothing really unjust, it was the referee's opinion.
"The refereeing decisions really didn't have that much effect, maybe if anything it woke us up a little bit because we hadn't been at our best prior to both of them. It was a strange game. St Mirren were the better side up until the time we got Kevin Thomson ordered off."
The St Mirren manager, Gus MacPherson, described the losers' dressing room as "sombre" and said: "It is extremely sore to take, having being in control for the large percentage of the game. People will talk about Rangers going down to nine men but even with a full complement we were the better team.
"We created more chances when it was eleven versus eleven. We had chances that we had to take – but that has been a frustration for us for most of the season. But the players were outstanding and I am proud of them after putting so much into it."Reuse content