Rangers 2-0 Heart of Midlothian: Cyriel Dessers' double sets up Scottish Cup final with Celtic

Dessers goal
Cyriel Dessers proved the match-winner for Rangers [SNS]

Cyriel Dessers fired Rangers into a first Scottish Cup final against Celtic since 2002, with a goal either side of half-time at Hampden seeing off Hearts.

The Nigeria international opened the scoring inside five minutes with a low left-footed shot under Craig Gordon, and his deflected effort made sure of the result late on after his initial shot was saved.

Hearts had their moments in attack, but lacked the necessary quality and composure to breach a Rangers defence that had wobbled in recent weeks.

Philippe Clement's side had won just two of their previous eight games in all competitions, but could yet win a domestic treble with the League Cup already secured.

Clement made four changes to the side that drew at Dens Park in midweek, and Rangers could not have wished for a better start as they looked to end their recent malaise.

Dessers volleyed over Abdallah Sima's cross with his first chance of the game, but the Nigeria international made no mistake with his second sight of goal.

Todd Cantwell found Dessers in the box after James Tavernier beat Kye Rowles to a loose ball, and the maligned striker chopped away from Nathaniel Atkinson onto his left foot before firing under Craig Gordon.

Hearts looked somewhat overawed by the occasion, and struggled to retain possession under relentless pressure from a revived Rangers.

However, Naismith's side grew into the contest as the half went on.

Allan Forrest drew a sharp save from Jack Butland, before the Rangers goalkeeper brilliantly denied Frankie Kent with his legs, unaware the Hearts defender was offside.

Rabbi Matondo then spurned a big chance to double Rangers' lead on the brink of half-time, dallying on the ball and allowing Atkinson to get back and block the shot.

After the break, both sides found themselves in promising attacking positions but couldn't find the all-important final pass as tension grew on the pitch and in the stands.

For Hearts, Kenneth Vargas couldn't pick out the unmarked Forrest after pinching the ball from John Souttar, and Lawrence Shankland headed into the side netting with his clearest sight of goal on the day.

At the other end, Dessers, Fabio Silva and Dujon Sterling all squandered chances, but as Hearts pressed for an equaliser, Rangers struck on the break to seal their final spot.

Cantwell drove into the Hearts box, dancing past several defenders before releasing Dessers to his right.

Gordon could only parry the initial shot back into Dessers' path and the veteran keeper was unable keep out the rebound.

The contrast between the two teams was stark. Rangers took the plaudits of the jubilant support behind the goal, while maroon jerseys slumped to the turf, knowing that their hopes of a fourth Scottish Cup final in six years were slipping away.

Yutaro Oda did almost pull one back late on, but was denied by a sharp Butland save, while Silva missed a glorious chance to make it three, inexplicably falling on the ball with the goal at his mercy.

Dessers scuffed an effort wide as he searched for a Hampden hat-trick, but his double was enough as Rangers continued their imperious record against Hearts.

Player of the Match - Todd Cantwell (Rangers)

Todd Cantwell
Cantwell's ability to find space and ride challenges was vital in Rangers' win. Hearts struggled to get a grip on the English midfielder, and he played a crucial role in both goals. [SNS]

Dessers answers his critics as Hearts fall short - analysis

All season, Dessers has copped criticism from both pundits and Rangers fans alike, with questions raised particularly over his ability in front of goal.

However, he now has 19 goals in all competitions, and he came up with the goods when it mattered on the biggest of stages.

The good and bad of the Nigerian were both on show at Hampden. He picked up wonderful positions, roughed up opposition defenders, while also missing several chances alongside his two goals.

Cantwell also deserves praise for the way he impacted the game. He constantly found pockets of space and set up both the goals.

Naismith said the defeat highlighted Hearts' "immaturity", and he will be deeply frustrated by their profligacy on the day.

They have kept pace with Celtic and Rangers in terms of league points in the second half of this season, but have now lost all five of their meetings with Rangers this season.

It is a record Naismith will be determined to end as soon as possible.

What they said

Rangers manager Philippe Clement: "These last six months have been the best six months of Cyriel's career, and we'll keep pushing him on.

"He's honest, he works really hard for the team. He's scoring a lot of goals. Can he make more goals? Yes, but I don't know any striker in the world who scores all their chances.

"We are in a title chase, we are in a cup final, and we are really hungry for more trophies."

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith: "It's really frustrating. Got off to a terrible start. It's not good enough. From that moment to the second goal, we played a lot of good stuff, created a lot of good chances.

"You could tell our immaturity in the final third, the decision making, the three, four, five good situations we were in, we never made the right choice. That's the part that let us down today.

"We can be really frustrated but the bigger picture is we've made big strides. It's decision making, that's the biggest thing that cost us today."

What's next?

Hearts are away to Kilmarnock in the league on 27 April (15:00), while Rangers go to Paisley in league action on 28 April (12:30).