Last night’s win over Livi might have been a slow burner, but Steven Gerrard can be delighted with the second half showing, in particular the impact of Romania’s Ianis Hagi, who took barely two minutes to carve Livi open and get the ball to Roofe for a tap in.
We need this kind of impact from our players more regularly, and Hagi, who has frankly been one of the club’s best performers this calendar year, made all the difference last night after a stale and stodgy first half where little penetration took place and Rangers were toothless.
This was all about the semi final, getting to the latter latter stages of a cup competition – crucially, winning Stevie G’s first cup as Rangers manager, and it looked for long spells in that first half like such an outcome was unlikely.
But the change of removing the ineffectual Scott Wright for the livewire ex-Genk man made a total alteration to the game flow, and Rangers suddenly looked properly dangerous.
The first half had seen most attacking threat come, as usual, from the fullbacks, but in this case it was Bassey and Patterson – and while both are impressive on that front, Barisic and Tavernier, at their best (which they’ve not been this season) are clearly superior models at present and neither of the younger understudies was able to impact in attack too effectively.
But the introduction of Hagi changed the complexion totally – energy came in, and the previously blank front three came to life.
The attacker is probably Rangers’ most consistent deliverer this year, and he’s been a big miss in recent weeks.
His energy is badly needed and last night he showed why.
Thank goodness he’s back. And thank goodness we’re through.