Rangers earn Michael Beale breathing space after referee and VAR shocker sets Ibrox men on path to victory
The gloom and doom that seemed to have taken up permanent residence over the club - striker Kemar Roofe even moved to accept this week that supporter disgruntlement was legitimate when entertainment was so denied them - could for an evening be replaced by cheers and cheerfulness among those rewarded for braving the elements. How Beale would want to bottle such a rare occasion.
Rancour expressed in rumblings from the Ibrox stands at the end of the watery weekend win over Motherwell dominated the debate around him in the lead-up to the quarter-final. Although there really hasn’t been much of one over the Englishman’s job prospects. Rarely can there have been such expectation - as opposed to resignation - from a seething support that, sooner rather than later, their team were destined to come unstuck to unseat their manager.
This led to a point-blank refusal from the Beale refuseniks. The faction unable to countenance the possibility that a three-game winning run could be extended for the foreseeable future. And so buy the 43-year-old some desperately needed breathing space. Yet, they seemed to overlook that Rangers could only produce better than the impoverished football served up against the Fir Park men. So it was that there was almost double-takes from the healthy home crowd as their team began with zip, tempo and intent.
Only for the Ibrox men to be helped on their path to poise within 10 minutes thanks to the inexplicable from referee Willie Collum and backed by VAR operative Nick Walsh. All in the stadium waited for a strike from Abdallah Sima to be chopped off when the forward sweetly arrowed an angled drive past Shamal George only after he toppled Jamie Brandon in grabbing at his shoulder with his outstretched arm. Instead, no infringement was deemed to have taken place. To the shock of all.
Rangers allowed the contest to drift either side of the interval but never looked under any real danger of being pegged back. And were able to enjoy a procession to the end - in contrast to the messiness of the Motherwell win - after Ridvan Yilmaz picked up the ball in his own half 65 minutes in and he took off as if he was fleeing from a burning building before fizzing in an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area. The left-back then producing a prayerful thanks of his first goal for the club by kneeling and prostrating himelf near the corner flag. The club faithful no doubt also then acknowledging higher powers for a moment that ensured the tie was sealed.
Six minutes from time, it was 3-0 when Luiyi de Lucas slid in to block a Sima shot from wide on the left and instead sent it looping up beyond George. It was almost as if Rangers felt good enough about themselves to chuck in a party trick as the fourth was fashioned in added time. A cut-back from James Tavernier dummied exquisitely by substitute Scott Wright to allow Ryan Jack to drill into the corner. For a win that will strain any Beale bashing. For at least a few days.
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