Philippe Clement insists he got the reaction he expected from Rangers as his side kept their treble dreams alive with victory over Hearts to secure a Scottish Cup final against Celtic.

The Belgian has suffered a handful of setbacks in the Premiership title race in recent weeks after Rangers were beaten by Motherwell and Ross County and held by Celtic and Dundee. Rangers head into the post-split fixtures second in the standings but are just three points adrift of their Old Firm rivals.

The final 90 minutes of the campaign could deliver a historic success for Clement and it will be Celtic that stand in Rangers’ way at Hampden after Cyriel Dessers scored in either half to see off Hearts. A 2-0 victory has set up a first Old Firm Scottish Cup final in more than two decades.

“To say it’s pleasing it not a good word,” Clement said when asked about how pleasing the result was on the back of their Premiership struggles in recent days. “It’s what I expected. It’s what I demanded, it’s what I wanted. It was what I knew I would get from the team, also. I was totally not pleased about the game after Ross County, with how we lost our structure and lost our normal football. Against Dundee we were too much in a rush to score a goal and today we found the right balance again. It’s what we have been doing for a lot of months now. But it’s been challenging in the last couple of months with all the injuries and players in and out. We have been lacking rhythm.

“But today, if you see the bench, it is stronger again and that’s going to be important in the next couple of weeks when it’s one game a week. Before these cup semi-finals we were the only team that played during the week. It makes a different and you need to look at that if you have three games in seven or eight days. With players coming out of injury you cannot let them play all the minutes. It’s been a puzzle around that but now, in this last part of the season, it’s going to be a challenge in the squad with players coming back. Quality then rises in the training and quality rises in the game also because we have a strong bench.”

Clement has come under increasing pressure from his own supporters during an ill-timed stumble in the title race but he got the rewards for his big calls at Hampden. Leon Balogun returned to the starting line-up in place of Connor Goldson and was an assured performer alongside John Souttar. A trip to face St Mirren is next on the agenda for Rangers and Clement must now decide whether to bring Goldson back into the side.

“A headache? Yeah maybe, but a nice one,” Clement said. “When I came in we had at that moment four really good centre backs with Connor, with John, with Leon and Ben Davies. Ben has also been injured a long time and is coming back now. Connor did a massive job the last couple of months when we have been the best defence. 

“But he looked a little bit tired to me last week. My idea was to let Leon play on Wednesday, to give Connor a breather. But Leon became sick then so there were circumstances where you need to adapt. I know the quality of these four guys, I know they are going to push the next few weeks to be in the team. If I can have more headaches like that in all the positions then I am sure we are going to be really successful the next couple of weeks.”

The only negative of the afternoon was the injury that forced Abdallah Sima off inside the opening quarter of an hour. The forward only returned to action against Hibernian after a lengthy lay-off with a thigh strain he picked up at the African Cup of Nations.

“I don’t know yet,” Clement said when asked about the winger’s fitness. “We will make that assessment tomorrow or the day after. I hope it’s not too bad but the doctor didn’t speak to me about that. I know from experience you can’t make that assessment now so it will be tomorrow or the day after.”