Rangers will face Aberdeen in the Viaplay Cup Semi-Final after a dominating second-half showing saw off Hearts at Hampden.

A James Tavernier penalty and Scott Wright strike from the bench had Philippe Clement’s men 2-0 inside 55 minutes before the captain spectacularly found the right corner from a free-kick. Lawrence Shankland’s late penalty, awarded after a VAR check, was only consolation in the end.

The Rangers Review picks apart the game’s big talking points below…

A win to build the feel-good factor

Trudging down the national stadium tunnel at half time, Rangers were arguably in control but certainly not in command. Despite the obvious pressure release of not facing the eliminated Celtic, who’ve been so dominant in cup competitions during recent years, anything other than lifting this trophy would be viewed as a disaster for the squad. The nature of cup football is that it’s so often precariously placed. One missed chance, one defensive slip, and a season can turn in a second, with a previously-excitable mood completely quashed. That was the backdrop of this day. Jack Butland had little to do in the first half but still, too often relying on percentages in the final third there was a palpable sense of nerves in the away support. After all, trips to the national stadium in the past number of years have carried more than a dose of heartache. By the time the clock hit 65, however, the vast majority of Hampden were in party mode and looking forward to a return trip for the final next month. Wright brought energy from the bench, Rangers played with a higher tempo and big players, notably Butland and Danilo, helped edge the fine margins that had betrayed this side at similar stages in last season’s cup competitions, Tavernier again provided big moments and very quickly the first half’s edgy tone was a distant memory. The momentum Clement’s mustered since joining the club could easily have deserted him here given this club's cup record of late but he took a step closer to achieving a trophy no Rangers boss has managed since Walter Smith.

First half predictability

Speaking to RangersTV before the game, Philippe Clement explained that Ridvan Yilmaz had just played his heaviest load of matches - with two 90 minutes in the space of four days - since joining the club. In no mood to increase the injury issues he’s inherited, the Belgian reinstated Borna Barisic in place. What he didn’t mention, understandably, was the joy Hearts had against the left side of the Rangers defence last time out at Ibrox which was the origin point of their goal on that day. Presumably keen to negate the effectiveness of this ploy, with Toby Sibbick again at right wing-back and Shankland drifting where he saw fit, Clement opted for the Croatian. It only took a few minutes for visible frustration to be shown from the touchline when Barisic checked back rather than play forward, a habit he’s guilty of, and all throughout the first half a tendency to cross rather than find a final pass made life easier for the opposition defence, well stocked with centre-backs. When Rangers did move the ball quickly from right to left, there was sufficient space to slide a ball down the side with Hearts unable to fall into a low block, but that proved a rarity. With Hearts able to force Rangers outside and backwards in the first half, not facing tricky wingers who could cut inside against the flow and face up their men one-against-one, it was only in moments on the right where a fluency between Tavernier, Sam Lammers and Todd Cantwell showed. Otherwise, despite Cantwell’s quality, the No.13 wasn’t able to impact the attack consistently. Rangers needed a greater number of pacey ball-carriers and block-breakers on the pitch and at the break, Clement made his move.

Characters after the break

Wright, the man who was sent off in Michael Beale’s final game, has a history of scoring against Hearts at Hampden and has quickly found a role under his new boss. Clement, unlike his predecessor, wants to play with wide players even if this squad is not really built for such demands with an array of No.10s instead. Cantwell is a player of superior quality when compared to Wright but arguably, his impact from the right side is somewhat negated given he’s receiving on his wrong side and is a different profile to the substitute. Wright excels as a powerful dribbler in tight spaces and his impact in a performance craving another gear was immediate. Before the break, the Ibrox had simply lacked players to drive at Hearts and too often, they were pressed backwards more often than their manager’s body language on the sideline suggested he was totally comfortable with. Tavernier’s penalty, earned by quick Danilo running, opened this game up and injected Rangers with a clear dose of confidence. Although there was no goal for Danilo today he enjoyed another good performance up top; linking play, providing energy and an assist for Wright’s driven shot into the far corner. Tavernier’s free-kick fired into the top-right corner from close range made this scoreline secure even if Shankland had time to bring one back from the spot himself. This was a game turned not only by a substitution, but big players stepping up and deciding the margins.

James Tavernier the protagonist... again

Tavernier opened up on his penalty technique, process and practice in midweek during a lengthy sit-down interview with the papers. He’d explained earlier during his broadcast press conference that there was never an ounce of doubt in his mind last week against Hearts, having missed earlier in the game, that he’d step up to take one of the highest-pressure spot-kicks of his career. Today’s finish against the same opposition felt in little doubt for a man who’s routinely dragged his side forward, stood up to criticism surrounding his mentality and led by example. It was only last week that Rangers’ season seemed headed for disaster until Tavernier delivered a goal and assist to turn a defeat into victory. Today at the national stadium, a place where he’s seen his fair share of defeats and shouldered plenty of blame, Rangers’ difference-maker was again the protagonist. It was telling that his manager took him off in the final minutes for a deserved standing ovation.