Rangers have booked their place in the Scottish Cup final and set up a potential shot at treble glory after a 2-0 victory over Hearts. Philippe Clement’s side will face Celtic in the showpiece finale to the campaign.

Cyriel Dessers gave Rangers the perfect start with a fine finish inside five minutes. A second effort 15 minutes from time was enough to defeat Steven Naismith’s side as their promising moments came to nothing. The only concern for Clement was the injury that forced Abdallah Sima off early on but this was a welcome boost for a side that needed one after their recent Premiership troubles.

Dessers proves the difference

Rangers took advantage of an advantage. Steven McLean allowed play to continue on the edge of the Hearts area and James Tavernier knocked the ball into Todd Cantwell’s path. Rangers have been guilty of squandering promising situations throughout the campaign but they capitalised this time as Cantwell slipped in Dessers. He waited and shifted the ball before shooting and found the bottom corner of Craig Gordon’s net.

If only Dessers had shown that same clinical edge with 20 minutes remaining. Once again, his reluctance to shoot saw a chance wasted. He had earlier wasted a promising situation with a heavy touch. It looked like being one of those days.

The Nigerian soon had his second, and Rangers had their final spot. Gordon denied him after Cantwell had meandered into the Hearts area and elected to pass rather than shoot. From the rebound, Dessers showed the composure that is only evident in flashes. A left foot finish was emphatic. This time, Dessers made the headlines for the right reasons.

Rangers make the most of big moments

To say that Rangers have been notoriously slow starters in recent fixtures would be something of an understatement. Behind inside 22 seconds against Celtic, Clement’s side gifted clear chances to Ross County and Dundee before the first minute had elapsed. This was a welcome improvement, but there would have been more than one supporter asking just where a performance of this tempo had been during their Premiership stumbles.

There was an urgency and sense of belief about Rangers that just hasn’t been seen of late. The ball was moved with precision and pace, the press carried intent. And when Dessers scored with just five minutes on the clock, Rangers were in the ascendancy.

A second goal in those opening exchanges would have been a major step towards the final for Clement’s side. Hearts had good moments as Jack Butland made excellent stops to deny Alan Forrest and Frankie Kent.

The game had settled by that stage and Hearts had worked themselves into the encounter. It was the Jambos who were brighter after the restart as decent chances were created. When a Rangers corner turned into a 4v3 against them, the wastefulness from Hearts summed up their attacking efforts. A Lawrence Shankland header found the side net and sparked brief celebrations from behind the goal but Hearts didn't have the quality when it mattered. Rangers did and were deserved winners.

Balogun decision pays off

The decision to leave Connor Goldson out was the biggest call that Clement made pre-match. As he explained in the minutes after the teams were confirmed, it was a plan that he had in mind for the draw with Dundee on Wednesday night. He insisted that Goldson was lacking ‘freshness’ after playing a significant number of minutes in recent months and that the sickness issue that kept Leon Balogun laid low had changed plans ahead of Dens Park.

Goldson has become something of a lightning rod for the Rangers support of late. For many, he has lost the edge and has become a liability rather than a stalwart. Time will tell how Clement utilises him going forward and if he comes back in to partner John Souttar.

The Balogun and Souttar partnership is largely untested. It was assumed that Souttar would switch to the right side of the pairing, but Balogun was a straight swap for Goldson in that sense. The Nigerian was a composed presence, reading the game well and winning his headers and tackles.

Souttar was culpable early in the second half as Kenneth Vargas got away from him in the right channel. Thankfully, Tavernier was on hand to clear the danger. Rangers had seen off the best that Hearts could throw at them. Balogun had played his part in that with a commanding performance.

A welcome return for pace and width

The front four that Clement selected was a sign of intent. For the first time since the trip to Rugby Park, the Belgian had two natural wide men in the line-up from the off. Oscar Cortes hasn’t featured since and his absence has been a real miss for Rangers as Fabio Silva has filled in, with varying degrees of success, from that left side. The other man that started in Ayrshire, Ross McCausland, was introduced earlier than he would have expected here as he replaced Abdallah Sima after 15 minutes.

Sima had started brightly on the right and had caused Hearts issues, most notably when he created a chance for Dessers after a ball over the top. He was embraced by Clement before heading straight up the tunnel for treatment. The fact that it was McCausland that replaced him spoke to Clement’s desire to have width and pace in the final third as Silva was overlooked.

Rabbi Matondo’s most telling impact in the first half an hour came from a central run rather than down the left. He was direct as he carried the ball through the field and started a move that ended with Gordon saving a Tavernier strike.

An attempt at replicating his Old Firm strike ended up with the ball closer to the corner flag than the top corner. This was an afternoon that did little to dampen the debate about the Welshman’s effectiveness as a substitute rather than a starter. Just after the hour mark, he was replaced by Silva.

Diomande proves his value

The £4.5million fee that Rangers have committed themselves to sign Mohamed Diomande come the summer will take a sizeable chunk out of Clement’s transfer kitty. Performances such as this show why Rangers believe the investment will be a sound one and why the midfielder has the potential to be a success in football and financial terms. Diomande was not flashy, but he was so effective.

He kept it simple. He took up good positions, made the right passes at the right times. One moment in the first half saw him spin away under pressure and he was integral at giving Rangers a defensive foothold as well as an attacking presence.

There will, rightly, be plenty of focus on what Clement does in terms of the midfield heading into next term. Diomande will be central to those plans. This was a big game performance from a big game player.