The fact that the tie had been switched to the neutral venue of Dundee United's Tannadice did little for the atmosphere. The prospects were frankly grim, as once again one side entered the encounter simply enjoying a day out while the other saw it as a mere inconvenience on their way to the semi-finals.
What unfolded, however, was a thoroughly enjoyable affair, even if Rangers never looked like being turned over. They prevailed with a Paul Gascoigne double and a Brian Thomson own goal, but Thistle came out and attacked in a fashion few Premier League sides can muster against the champions.
Thistle worked hard to defend, while Ian Stewart and Charlie Christie up front broke at pace and always had the ability to disturb. If it had not been for a fabulous display of crucial saves by Jim Calder, however, Rangers could have won by much more.
It took only three minutes before Calder had to produce his first, stopping a David Robertson strike. But the lead was gained after a quarter of an hour. Peter van Vossen's pace took him clear on the left and he squared to give Brian Laudrup a clear shot at goal. Thomson made a fine recovery to slide back and intercept but then looked on in despair as he found his own net.
Thistle continued to press, and Andy Goram got down well to stop a Richard Hastings free-kick. Then some rough defending by Alan McLaren took the power off a Stewart shot and Goram saved again. It was their attacking bravado that allowed Rangers their second, though they left themselves blatantly exposed. They broke upfield and Gascoigne squirmed through Ian McArthur and Graeme Bennett to finish from the edge of the box with the composure of the training ground.
Rangers returned from the break transformed into a 4-4-2 formation, shutting down down Thistle's space and making much of the second half an opportunity for shooting practice.
Calder produced a string of saves to earn himself the man of the match award. He could hardly be blamed for Rangers' third, when Laudrup crossed to an unmarked Gascoigne who headed in his second of the match and his 14th of the season.Reuse content