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Rangers had to ‘not throw everything in garbage’

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Rangers did well “not to throw everything into the garbage” before their Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hearts, according to manager Philippe Clement.

The Ibrox side had won just two of the previous eight matches in all competitions, with a 3-2 defeat in Dingwall and a goalless draw in Dundee in the past week posing more questions for Clement than at any other time during his tenure.

However, Cyriel Dessers’ double at Hampden restored the feel-good factor as Rangers’ dreams of a domestic treble stayed alive.

Their recent stutter wasn’t evident in the opening stages at the national stadium. Rangers pressed Hearts high up the park, not allowing them any time to settle into the contest.

There was bite in the tackle, crispness to the passing, none of the tentativeness one might have expected after recent results, and Dessers’ opening goal settled any nerves.

“They started with the right mentality,” Clement said of his players. “They wanted to score fast and we paid a lot of attention to that but we did that also at Ross County. We did it and we showed more composure on the ball.

“Having players back like [Mohamed] Diomande helps a lot. He got injured against Celtic and we missed him. We had other players back also that played okay games but not at their best level yet. You have to take all those things into account and not throw everything in the garbage.

“You need to look at the circumstances. That’s what the players did and that’s why they had confidence in what we are going to do today against a really good team.

“Credit to Hearts. They are playing a really good season and have taken a lot of points; deserved to be in third position. So playing that way against the third best team in the league, that’s a very important thing for the next couple of weeks.”

Clement ‘demanded’ a response

Clement’s team sheet showed four changes from the lacklustre display at Dens Park on Wednesday. Connor Goldson was dropped for Leon Balogun, while Diomande and Dessers returned to the side alongside winger Rabbi Matondo.

The changes were justified as Rangers kept a clean sheet at the back, and took their chances when it mattered at the other end.

Clement insists he knew his side would deliver the goods.

“It’s what I expected,” he said. “I demanded it, it’s what I wanted. It’s what I knew we would get from the team.

“I was totally not pleased with Ross County about the game where we lost our structure and our normal football.

“Against Dundee we were too much in a rush to score the goal and today we found the right balance again.”

The Belgian was enthused by the different options he was able to call upon, as his squad moves closer to full strength for the run-in.

“It’s been challenging the last few months because of all the injuries,” he added. “You see today the bench is stronger again.

“Now in this last part of the season we will have a challenge. We have players coming back and the quality rises in training and in the game because we have a strong bench.”

When Hearts applied the pressure – particularly in the second half – Rangers stood strong. It is that steel and resilience they will need to call upon if they are to beat Celtic to either, or both, league and cup.

Clement didn’t get too down after their recent blip, and one would imagine he won’t get ahead of himself now.

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