The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Ruthless Rangers pile more misery on Old Firm rivals by sealing place in Scottish Cup quarterfinals as Celtic face trophy-less campaign
Steven Gerrard pointed to the heart in his ruthless Rangers side after they knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 fourth-round win at Ibrox.
Midfielder Steven Davis gave the home side the lead in the 10th minute with an improvised finish before Parkhead full-back Jonjoe Kenny, under pressure from Gers attacker Ryan Kent, scored an own goal in the 33rd minute.
Celtic missed a series of chances including a 79thminute penalty when goalkeeper Allan Mcgregor, who produced another terrific performance, denied Odsonne Edouard.
The Light Blues wrested the Premiership title back from their Old Firm rivals for the first time in a decade this season and ensured the cup would also be leaving Parkhead for the first time in five years, as they set up a home tie with St Johnstone in the next round.
Boss Gerrard said: “When I look around the group, the dressing room and the bus, I have got plenty of hearts beating behind me, plenty of them in abundance.
“No one can ever doubt my players in that capacity, when you are talking about endeavour, heart, desire. We have got loads of that.
“You need good footballers and you need talent, for sure. Especially at a club like this where the responsibility and the pressure is to deliver and win and be consistent.
“But there is no point just having talent. You have got to have good people, people who are willing to put their body on the line – and that all comes from heart, passion and desire.
“That is what these fans demand and what they deserve and it is my job to bring people in who are prepared to give them that.”
Rangers have won all 19 home domestic games at Ibrox this season and St Mirren are the only Scottish side to beat them, ending their interest in the Betfred Cup.
The Gers also reached the last 16 of the Europa League, but were knocked out by Slavia Prague.
Gerrard said: “I thought we were really strong and we delivered under pressure again.
“We had a real strong mentality about us, everyone was in line with what we needed today.
“We challenged them from an individual point of view and they all delivered.
“The mentality has been top. We have been questioned in recent years about mentality and consistency, and rightly so because sometimes we have come up short.
“But this season, so far, there is only St Mirren where you can be critical and that was on me.
“I took that away from the players, I made the changes and I was responsible for that.
“From a European point of view, incredible mentality and our performance level to get to where we have got to.
“From a league point of view, we won it in March, which is unheard of, and now it is about keeping our standards and performance levels for as long as we can and all the way to what will hopefully be May 22 (cup final).”
Celtic interim manager John Kennedy said: “First half we were far too passive, too soft in our pressing, and allowed Rangers to pass where they wanted. I thought we lacked a bit of belief and were just passing for the sake of passing it.
“Second half we came out and reacted well and got on the front foot and created some chances. But we weren’t decisive enough in those moments and weren’t clinical.
“In front of goal, we didn’t have enough belief.
“Bitterly disappointed with how we approached the first half, second half was better, but this game is all about the result and nothing else.”