3 talking points as Rangers cruise to Scottish Cup win with Filip Helander netting on triumphant return

Rangers eased into the Scottish Cup quarter finals with a thumping win over Annan Athletic in torrential conditions in Dumfriesshire.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men showed a professional attitude to ensure there was no major shock against Peter Murphy’s League two side.

Filip Helander netted on his first team return before Kemar Roofe added a second for his 11th of the season and Fashion Sakala sent them the Light Blues in 3-0 up at the break.

The heavens opened and on a plastic pitch against League Two opposition, it was the kind of stage that made for a Cup shock.

It was just going to come down to the attitude of the Scottish champions and it didn’t take long to discover they were going to be professional.

Gio van Bronckhorst

They started on the front foot and Helander saw an effort headed over the crossbar by Dominic Docherty.

But the Swede wouldn’t be denied a goal on his comeback as, from the resulting corner, he rose to head home an Aaron Ramsey corner.

The Light Blues were off and running and didn’t have to wait too much longer for a second goal which arrived on 22 minutes.

Borna Barisic had earlier had a free kick saved by Greg Fleming but there was little the Annan keeper could when Roofe picked up the ball and sent a brilliant shot low into the corner.

Gers should have had a third when debutant Mateusz Zukowski picked out Sakala but his effort hit the crossbar.

However, the Zambian did get on the scoresheet soon after and it was in unorthodox fashion as he lived up to his reputation to expect the unexpected.

Sakala was wide out on the left and he sent in a cross-cum-shot which ended up in the top corner with a bemused Fleming rooted to the spot.

Ramsey had the ball in the net just before half time with a cheeky finish but the Welshman was flagged offside.

Van Bronckhorst made changes at the break with Helander and Ramsey both going off but the tempo didn’t drop and Amad Diallo almost grabbed a fourth only to see his effort smack off the crossbar.

Charlie McCann came on for his debut with 20 minutes left, joined by Cedric Itten, and the youngster almost grabbed a late Gers fourth but Fleming denied him.

Here’s three talking points from Galabank

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Fit Fil a boost

Filip Helander marked his return to the first team for the first time in five months with the opening goal and it’s huge for Giovanni van Bronckhorst to have the Swede back.

The former Bologna last goal was the winner against Celtic so he is a threat in the opposition penalty box.

Filip Helander celebrates

But it’s at the other end of the pitch where his presence will really be felt, especially with Leon Balogun having had his injury problems.

It’s an area where the Light Blues have been short with Calvin Bassey forced to move inside and having failed to land John Souttar in the January transfer window.

Helander’s return is key at a crucial period of the season and it was no surprise he went off after the hour.

Ruthless Rangers

Annan boss Peter Murphy claimed Rangers would have failed if they didn’t beat his side at least 5-0.

If it was an attempt at a bit of pre-match mind games from the Irishman then it didn’t work against the Scottish champions.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men might not have got the five but it was a thoroughly professional performance.

The Dutchman changed his entire XI from the midweek win over Hibs and it was a stroll for those who came in despite horrendous conditions.

Aaron’s adjustment

Aaron Ramsey’s last appearance for Juventus was in the most prestigious competition in world football for Juventus in the Champions League.

It was in the spectacular 68,000 Gazprom Arena as the Italian giants earned a 1-0 win against Zenit St Petersburg.

His parent club are in Serie A action on Sunday at Atalanta as they look to haul themselves back into the title race.

Aaron Ramsay

So Galabank on a rain lashed evening on a plastic pitch must have been quite a culture shock for the Welshman for his first Light Blues start.

But he took it all in his stride and didn’t let the surroundings affect him and almost scored a cheeky first goal only for it to be ruled out by the offside flag before he went off on the hour.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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