Gascoigne at the double

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The Independent Online
Caledonian Thistle 0

Rangers 3

Thomson 15 og, Gascoigne 35, 52

Attendance: 12,000 (at Tannadice)

THE SCOTTISH Cup this season has hardly been littered with shocks. Rangers had scored 14 goals in the previous two rounds and there was little hope that Caledonian Thistle would engineer an upset yesterday.

For one side it was a super day out while for the other it was a mere inconvenience on their way to the semi-finals. While Rangers won comfortably, aided by an own goal and a Paul Gascoigne double, it was nevertheless all extremely enjoyable. While Thistle worked hard to defend, with Ian Stewart and Charlie Christie up front they broke quickly and were always likely to disturb.

Clyde had scared Rangers in the previous round, taking a second-half lead, so the Ibrox club started yesterday determined to avoid a similar scenario. Within a minute, Alan McLaren had stretched to poke past the post and two minutes later Thistle's keeper Jim Calder produced a fabulous reflex save to deny David Robertson.

But Thistle had their own attacking intentions and Andy Goram almost gifted them the lead. He failed to hold a Brian Thompson cross and McLaren had to be sharp to clear before Stewart could scramble the ball in. It was therefore a tragedy that Rangers should finally open the scoring in the fashion they did. Peter van Vossen's pace took him clear of the Thistle defence and he squared the ball to Brian Laudrup, who would have had a clear strike at goal. But Thompson slid back to intercept and looked on in despair as he beat his own goalkeeper.

Quality always shines through, and Gascoigne produced his 10 minutes before the break. Thistle's attacking bravado left them drastically exposed with seven men in the opposing penalty area. Rangers sprinted away and Gascoigne showed wonderful close control as he squirmed past Ian MacArthur and Graeme Bennett before picking his spot from the edge of the box.

Rangers returned after the break without Gordan Petric, transformed into a 4-4-2 formation with Alex Cleland joining midfield. This shut down much of Thistle's space and for much of the second half Rangers were taking turns to shoot. At the back though was Calder who produced a string of critical saves stopping van Vossen, Charlie Miller and Ally McCoist. He could do little about Gascoigne's second goal, however. Brian Laudrup swung over a cross from the left and Gascoigne headed home with McCoist on hand should a helping touch have been needed.

Thistle's heart never faltered and they continued to play some attractive football with Stewart turning David Robertson beautifully before sidefooting just wide three minutes later. They also produced the best move of the game when a Stewart flick allowed Christie to set up John Scott.