SCOTT ARFIELD netted a double as Rangers secured passage to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup this afternoon with victory over Hamilton Accies.
The Canadian Captain netted a rebounded penalty in the first-half to hand his side the lead, but Lewis Smith grabbed an equaliser to send the sides in level at the break. Joe Aribo, Alfredo Morelos and then a stinging long-ranger from Arfield in injury time secured a, in the end, comfortable victory for Steven Gerrard’s side.
From the team which defeated Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership in midweek, Gerrard made just the one change with Glen Kamara replacing Steven Davis in midfield.
Rangers began the game well, and should have been ahead inside five minutes. Patient play on the left saw Glen Kamara slip Ryan Kent in, and he stood a lovely ball up to the back post for Iainis Hagi to head wide of the left-hand post.
An Accies break then ended with Lewis Smith bringing a good stop out of Allan McGregor with a strike from the edge of the area, before Borna Barisic steamed in to clear the rebound.
Kent tested Accies’ keeper Luke Southwood with a curling effort from the edge of the area, before on 24 minutes, Rangers were awarded a penalty.
Alfredo Morelos cut into the area from the right, and as Jamie Hamilton tried to stop him, he slipped and pulled the Colombian down with him for a clear spot kick.
Up-stepped Scott Arfield to take, and while Southwood guessed correctly by diving to his right to block, he could only push the rebound back out as far as Arfield who calmly side-footed the ball into the back of the net.
James Tavernier came close to making it 2-0, connecting on the volley at the back post to a Barisic cross, but he could only lift it over, while Morelos was slipped-in by Hagi, but Southwood was quickly off his line to block.
However, on 38 minutes, Accies leveled, with their attack again being on the break. Substitute Marios Ogkmpoe and Lewis Smith both ran from deep at the Gers defence, with the ball ending at the feet of Smith to finish from 10-yards out.
Morelos volleyed over a dipping Hagi ball as Gers looked to respond, while Hagi shot at Southwood when another Barisic cross found its way to him in the area.
The home side then had a glorious opportunity to take the lead with Mickel Miller racing clear following a Barisic slip, but from nowhere, Glen Kamara showed outstanding pace to get back and make an outstanding tackle on the edge of the box.
Having been forced into a double substitution on 35 minutes to replace the injured Steve Davies and Andy Dales with the aforementioned Ogkmpoe and Miller, Miller then had to be replaced at the interval by Blair Alston, meaning Accies had used all three substitutes.
Gers were struggling to create at the start of the second half, but on 68 minutes, they made a super goal to re-take the lead.
Ryan Kent showed wonderful pace to skin Aaron McGowan down the left before crossing for Joe Aribo at the near post to divert across goal and into the corner of the net.
It was a relief for Gers, who seemed to be lifted by the goal as they came close to killing the game two minutes later with a James Tavernier free-kick from 20-yards clearing the wall but being well-held by Southwood.
They did indeed go onto kill the game on 85 minutes, however, with Alfredo Morelos grabbing his first goal of 2020.
A super run from Aribo from his own half ended with him playing the ball to the right for substitute Greg Stewart who stood a lovely ball up into the middle for Morelos to nod home and secure Gers’ place in the quarter-final.
Morelos almost grabbed another as he cut in from the left and beat Southwood at his near post, though the shot slipped wide of the far post before, with two minutes of injury-time played, Arfield smashed in a ridiculous fourth.
Andy Halliday’s cross from the left was headed out by Brian Easton, but running onto it, 25-yards from goal was Arfield who hit a howitzer of a shot into the top corner to set the seal on a good afternoon for Gers, with the quarter-final draw taking place tomorrow.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Edmundson, Barisic (Halliday, 68); Kamara, Aribo, Arfield; Kent (Stewart, 81), Hagi (Davis, 73), Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Katic, Jones, Polster.
HAMILTON ACADEMICAL: Southwood, McGowan, McMann, Collar, Davies (Ogkmpoe, 35) Gogic, Winter, Easton, Dales (Miller, 35 (Alston,45)), Smith, Hamilton.
SUBS NOT USED: Gourlay, Hunt, Moyo, Want.
REFEREE: Alan Muir.