Despite exiting the CIS Cup on Thursday, Alex McLeish was confident that his players would be up for this feisty clash and as it happened he was right.
Henning Berg and Nuno Capucho replaced Michael Mols and Frank de Boer, from the line-up at Hampden, but it was Ronald de Boer who stole the show.
The 33-year-old scored the opening goal and showed some glimpses of his old self throughout the tie, which was definitely one of the most pleasing aspects from the afternoon’s play.
Sporting new silver boots the Dutchman thought he had given Rangers the lead inside the first minute, when he broke through the Killie defence to thunder a low shot past Francois Dubourdeau, but a late flag from the linesman ruled it offside.
Five minutes later the Rugby Park outfit had two glorious chances to go a goal ahead and were unlucky on both accounts.
The initial pressure came from a Danny Invincible shot, which was blocked by Mo Ross, but from the resulting corner Martin Hardie fired a looping half volley goal-bound leaving Klos helpless.
Thankfully for the German it cannoned off the cross bar and Ricksen cleared the danger.
Jim Jeffries’ side continued to press forward and won a succession of corners, but Rangers managed to hold out.
With a quarter of the match gone Killie defender Gordon Greer passed up his side’s best chance of the match when he headed wide from 10 yards after McSwegan’s cross deceived the Rangers back line.
Only 60 seconds later Shota Arveladze was then left with his head in his hands at the other end after he headed Nerlinger’s corner over the bar.
The Georgian’s miss was out done, however, by Ronald de Boer in the 29th minute. Michael Ball’s cross from the left caused disarray in the Killie defence and Dubourdeau’s punched clearance only landed as far as Mo Ross on the edge of the area.
The youngster then fired a low shot back into the area and when Capucho laid the ball off to de Boer, the Dutchman could only watch as his header cannoned off the post, before he blasted high over an empty net.
Mikel Arteta was next to have a shot and although he couldn’t hit the target, slowly but surely Rangers seemed to be gaining the upper hand in this Scottish cup tie.
The sides emerged after the break unchanged, but the Light Blues’ run of bad luck continued when Arveldaze’s shot beat Dubourdeau, but crashed off the underside of the bar and out.
In the 52nd minute Killie sent a dangerous reminder that they were still right in this cup tie when Greer played in McDonald but thankfully for Rangers Klos saved well at his near post.
On the hour mark Ronald de Boer was asked whether or not he was fit enough to carry on and it was just as well the former Barcelona star said he was, as only two minutes later he gave Gers a crucial lead.
Michael Ball’s hard, low cross into the box was met by de Boer when unleashed a fierce left footed shot high into the rood of the net.
Five minutes later the visitors managed to achieve what they had failed to do so far this year and that was secure the game with a second goal.
Shota Arveladze was carelessly bundled off the ball in the box by Gordon Greer and Dougie McDonald immediately pointed to the spot.
The Georgian decided to take it himself and by beating Dubourdeau, he rid himself of any memories of Thursday’s penalty miss against Hibs.
Killie had a few half chances in the latter stages of this clash but the visitors defended well to secure their place in the quarter finals.
This match against Celtic on March 6 will be the first time the Old Firm have met in this competition, out with final since 1998 when Rangers won 2-1 at Parkhead thanks to goals from Ally McCoist and Jorg Albertz.
KILMARNOCK: Dubourdeau, Hay, Greer, McLaughlin, McDonald (Boyd 71), Hardie, Locke (Dodds 19), Fowler, Skora, McSwegan, Invincible (Murray 67)
Subs: Meldrum, Nish
Booked: Dodds 40,
RANGERS: Klos, Ross, Berg, Moore, Ball, Ricksen, Arteta (Vanoli 63), Nerlinger (Ostenstad 63), Arveladze, Capucho (Namouchi 87), R de Boer
Subs: McGregor, Khizanishvili
Booked: Nerlinger 56, Ball 59, Vanoli 85
Referee: Douglas McDonald
Man of the match: Ronald de Boer