Craig Gordon sends Rangers ‘underdogs can win’ warning as Hearts stopper looks to Scottish Cup showdown

Craig Gordon was the Hampden hero as he helped hand Hearts a return ticket to the national stadium with a flick of his wrist.

It is hardly a new trait for the Scotland and Jambos No.1.

The 39-year-old regularly defies his age and gravity to make major saves for club and country.

Saturday was no exception as he produced when it mattered most to snuff out a potential semi-final comeback from Hibs.

The Easter Road side had battled back to 2-1 and it looked like Ryan Porteous had leveled.

Step up the skipper with a trademark throw of the arm to push the header on to a post and gather at the second attempt.

Craig Gordon

Gordon admits he got lucky the rebound fell into his grasp, a moment that denied Hibs real momentum in their bid to pull off a remarkable revival as Joe Newell walked 10 minutes later.

Gaffer Robbie Neilson reckons Gordon has already secured his place among Scotland’s best goalies, an exclusive club including Jim Leighton and Andy Goram.

Those watching at Hampden and on television on Saturday would find it hard to argue.

Gordon said: “It was a big one. It was a big moment in the game – and the season – to keep them out at that particular point because they were on top.

“To keep our lead intact was hugely important at that stage because they still had 11 men at the time.

“It would have been difficult for us to get the momentum back in the game if it had been 2-2.

“I was really happy with it. I got a little bit of luck when it came back off the post, it came towards me and I managed to dive on the second ball.

“But I hopefully deserved that bit of luck for the first touch. It can always happen as a goalkeeper that you make a save and you don’t know where it will rebound to. I managed to get that little bit of luck and I was very happy because it was a big moment.

“It was a good moment for me but there was still a long time to go in the game.

“We had to put in a great shift to get through in the end.”

Hearts will now head back to Hampden to face Rangers on May 21 for their third Scottish Cup Final in the last four years as they look to go one step further and win it.

Gordon knows his team will go in as underdogs but is confident they can bite to upset the odds.

He added: “It’s another opportunity to win a cup final and lift a trophy.

“Hearts have put themselves in this position a number of times in recent years and it’s another great chance for us.

“We have players who have witnessed the big occasion over the last four or five years. The club have been here a lot and that can only hold us in good stead for a massive game.

“Underdogs can win football matches. We’ve seen that last week in the Champions League and you see it every week in football that an underdog wins a football match.

“We know we have good players. We can be confident in our own ability and know we can cause teams problems on any given day.”

There is the added bonus now that the Jambos know their continental campaign will kick off in the Europa League.

The skipper, whose side have already secured a third spot in the league with a 16-point cushion, said: “We are not counting our chickens just yet.

Heart of Midlothian’s Stephen Kingsley celebrates scoring their side’s second goal of the game with team-mates during the Scottish Cup semi final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Saturday April 16, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Hearts. Photo credit should read: Steve Welsh/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

“But we have had a good season and we are in a great position. Now it’s about continuing to win games and keeping in good shape.”

Gordon was chuffed to see off Hibs, albeit he knows it could have been even more convincing had they taken their chances.

Stellar strikes from Ellis Simms and Stephen Kingsley sent them two up with 21 minutes gone before Chris Cadden got one back.

Gordon added: “I did feel the pace of the game was high and that always makes for an exciting game with both teams chucking everything at it.

“Even the first half was end to end with both teams attacking and trying to get goals.

“It was a good game with a bit of everything.

“There were great quality goals we scored and the build-up to the first goal was great too.

“If we had got another goal in the first half, we could have dominated the second half.

“If we can add a wee bit of steel that we showed here, we are a good outfit who will give anyone problems. We will just concentrate on ourselves as best we can and try to go into the final on good form.”

Neilson hopes to have some of his injured players back for the showpiece and Gordon is keeping his fingers crossed. Craig Halkett is one of them.

The defender was carried off five minutes after the break with what seemed to be a serious knee injury following a tackle from James Scott.

Gordon said: “We will find out in the next few days how he is but it didn’t look good at the time.

“Sometimes you just get that feeling as a player. It was not a great tackle. I don’t think by any means there was any attempt to injure him but it was a crunching tackle.

“It looks like he’s got a sore one but we will find out in the coming days.”

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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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