RANGERS cruised into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup as they overcame an early scare to brush Falkirk aside at Ibrox.
Jason Cummings bagged his first goals at Ibrox for the Light Blues as he fired in a hat-trick on his fourth start since signing in January.
The striker’s first came on the quarter of an hour mark but Falkirk pegged the Gers back within five minutes to 1-1. Cummings pounced within a minute of that equaliser for two and Rangers moved further ahead just before the break through an own goal.
The 22-year-old was sure he would get three and sure enough with 15 minutes to play he rounded off his and Rangers scoring to set up a final four place at Hampden.
Rangers picked up where they had left off on Tuesday night, opening their tie with Falkirk with some fluid attacking moves. They came to nothing until the 15th minute when Cummings created something special for his first Ibrox goal and the first of the afternoon. Daniel Candeias slid in the forward with a cute ball from the right and he moved in from the by-line to switch the ball to his left foot and curl the ball inside the far post.
Murty’s side had been in full control of game but Falkirk’s first attack of note resulted in an untidy goal from a Gers point of view. When the defence failed to clear a Bairns free-kick from their right properly it fell to Craig Sibbald on the edge of the box. The striker got a shot away but it was the heavy deflection off the face of Aaron Muirhead which veered the ball of course and took it past the retuning Jak Alnwick in goal.
While Ibrox rocked momentarily with worry Josh Windass put Andy Halliday in down the left. The fill in left-back played it square into the box and the feet of Cummings, who had his back to goal. Brimming with confidence the 21-year-old took his time to balance, turn to face goal and poke the ball beyond keeper Robbie Thomson. Rangers had the advantage once more.
Cummings nearly turned provider on 31 minutes when he laid off to Greg Docherty on the edge of the box and the midfielder fired narrowly wide from distance. Falkirk had their own chance a minute later when Louis Longridge’s driven effort from the left whizzed past Alnwick’s upright.
Sibbald put Alnwick to his first real test of the afternoon five minutes before the break. The Falkirk forward lining up a free-kick that look destined to sneak under the bar but for the hand of the Gers keeper to tip the ball over and out to safety.
On the stroke half-time Rangers had three for the half, this time Muirhead scoring at the wrong end to turn the ball into his own net. James Tavernier reacted quickly to play a short free-kick to Candeias on the right. The Portuguese’s ball along the chalk arrived with some pace and while the Bairns defender attempted to make sure Cummings, who was lurking behind him, didn’t have a tap in he did exactly that himself.
The Gers could have been in cruise control on the hour mark when Candeias spotted Morelos and picked out the Colombian from the right. The striker’s low shot required a little more power though and couldn’t sneak beyond Thomson who got down at his near post to save.
Cummings should have had his hat-trick on 65 minutes when he collected a ball over the top on his chest and teed up the strike perfectly. He cannoned the ball at goal with one touch but Thomson did well to turn the ball around the post and keep the Gers to three.
The same Candeias Morelos partnership were back in action again on 73 minutes the former teeing up the Gers top scorer. Morelos was denied again by the hands of Thomson and Cummings couldn’t pocket the loose ball as he arrived at the far post.
Cummings was desperate to get his hat-trick and with 15 minutes to go he’d done just that. Windass found space to run into as he burst away from the Falkirk defence and put Morelos in with a deft touch to his left. The striker was finding Thomson his nemesis though and once again the visitors’ keeper got down to save from him. Morelos nearly touched the rebound in himself but Cummings got to it first to fire home his third.
RANGERS: Alnwick, Tavernier, Alves, Bates, Halliday, Docherty, Goss (Holt 67’), Candeias (Miller 80’), Windass (Dodoo 80’), Cummings, Morelos.~
Subs not used: Foderingham, Martin, Hodson, Herrera.
Goals: Cummings 15’ 21’ 75′ Muirhead OG 44’
FALKIRK: Thomson, McGhee, Muirhead, Grant (Harris 71’), Taiwo (McKee 57’), Sibbald, Longridge, Tumilty, Jakubiak, Robson, Nelson.
Subs not used: Hazard, Kidd, Blair, Loy, Watson.
Goals: Muirhead 20’