The Gers’ no. 9 scored on 32 and 66 minutes to add to his hugely impressive tally and further strikes from Nacho Novo and Carlos Cuellar secured an excellent result for Walter Smith’s team. 

The manager handed Roy Carroll and Alan Gow their competitive debuts as part of a vastly altered line-up from the one that faced Aberdeen on Sunday and Ugo Ehiogu and Chris Burke also made their first appearances of the season. 

The Fifers support travelled in vast numbers for tonight’s match at their temporary home at East End Park and they were vociferous prior to kick-off.

As expected Dave Baikie’s side exploded out of the traps in a bid to catch their SPL opponents off-guard but you wondered how long the Third Division leaders – who knocked St. Mirren out of the cup in a previous round – could maintain their high tempo in the early stages.

The answer was not long as Rangers opened the scoring on 16 minutes through Nacho Novo but it is fair to say that keeper Wullie McCulloch did not cover himself in glory.

The Spaniard received the ball from a throw-in and was given space and time to launch a powerful, and somewhat speculative, effort from 30 yards.

The pace and swerve on the ball totally deceived the keeper who was left puzzled between the posts as the Gers’ players celebrated their early lead.

East Fife, however, showed great guts and spirit to beat the Buddies at Love Street on August 28 and Ryan Blackadder’s stunning right-foot shot which clipped the bar a minute later reminded the Ibrox stars that they could not afford to let their focus slip. 

Rangers as expected enjoyed the bulk of possession up until the half hour mark with Charlie Adam enjoying his central role in midfield alongside recent signing Amdy Faye. 

And the boys in Light Blue should have doubled their advantage on 31 minutes when Gow fed the ball to Broadfoot but the defender sclaffed his right-foot shot well wide with Boyd screaming for it to be cut inside.

The striker gave his teammate an icy stare but only 60 seconds later the stand-in skipper had netted his 50th goal for the Gers.

Broadfoot again tried his luck with a volley from a Burke corner but his goalbound effort was flicked on by Novo and Boyd was on-hand to bundle the ball over the line from three yards with McCulloch grounded.

It was a sweet moment for the prolific hitman who again showed that when it comes to hitting the net there is few better in the country.

Rangers were unable to extend their lead further prior to referee William Collum’s half-time whistle although it seemed inevitable that more goals would follow after the interval with so many Gers’ stars out to impress their gaffer ahead of Saturday’s league clash against Motherwell.

Novo worked tirlessly throughout the opening 45 minutes and he was inches away from scoring his second goal a minute after the restart when he cut inside from the left wing but his curling effort was tipped around the far post by McCulloch. 

The keeper, however, was helpless as the visitor’s notched a third on 54 minutes through Cuellar.

Adam delivered a trademark corner into the danger area and the former Osasuna stopper towered above the East Fife defence to head home from six yards.

Walter Smith decided to make his first alteration to his team on the hour mark by replacing Nacho Novo with Thomas Buffel.

The Belgian – who last featured in a competitive match back in January at the same venue against Dunfermline – was given a rousing reception from the Gers’ fans and his comeback will give the manager even more attacking options in the weeks to come.

The 26-year-old made an immediate impact on the night as he was pulled down in the 18-yard box by former Hibs defender Steven Tweed on 65 minutes and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Boyd placed the ball on the spot and made no mistake with a clinical finish. 

This was to be the Scotland star’s last bit of action of the night as he was substituted on 72 minutes with Daniel Cousin taking his place in attack.

With the scoreline sitting at 4-0 Smith then elected to make his third and final change by giving 19-year-old midfielder Paul Emslie his first opportunity in the top team and Rangers secured their place in tomorrow’s quarter-final draw at Hampden in convincing style.

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