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Rangers victory sets up Old Firm final

Rangers 2 Motherwell 1: Steven Naismith insists he cannot get enough of Old Firm games after his second-half winner for Rangers against Motherwell set up a Co-operative Insurance Cup final against Celtic at Hampden Park on March 20.

Before that the Glasgow giants will meet in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup at Ibrox on Sunday — which could go to a replay - and will clash in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in February with another SPL meeting assured after the league splits in two.

However, the Scotland international said: “You never get fed up with playing in Old Firm games.

“In some seasons you end up playing one team more than most and this year it's our biggest rivals.

“They are great games to play in and each Old Firm game is very different.

“I don't think the edge will be taken off them.

“They are very special games and you need to be up for it otherwise you will get beaten and that has been shown over the years.

“You obviously want to win every one of them and we will obviously concentrate first of all on the Scottish Cup next weekend.”

A wonderful strike from Maurice Edu after 20 minutes gave Rangers the interval lead in a scrappy game but the Steelmen stormed back after the break and levelled through midfielder Keith Lasley.

However, in the 75th minute Naismith's close-range header, after good work by Nikica Jelavic, assured the cup holders the chance to defend the trophy against Celtic, who beat Aberdeen 4-1 in the other semi-final yesterday.

Naismith said: “It was a tough game but we know that Motherwell are a good team.

“They won't sit in and try to sneak a goal, they will push forward as much as you will and they showed that when they fought back.

“We had to turn the tables again and we managed to do that.

“We have that winning mentality which holds you in good stead and we showed that.”

Boss Walter Smith was delighted to watch his team qualify for yet another final under his leadership.

“That's our fourth since I came back to Rangers,” admitted Smith.

“It was a hard-fought game and Motherwell had good possession of the ball and played well.

“Once we got the second goal, we should maybe have created one or two more opportunities.

“I'm delighted to win what was always going to be a hard-fought match. Stuart has got Motherwell back on track.”

Motherwell boss Stuart McCall still refers to Smith as “gaffer” from his time as a Rangers player and he believes he ran his old boss close at Hampden .

He said: “I've got mixed emotions. I'm disappointed because I thought the performance at least merited extra-time but I'm really proud of the players.

“I said before the game that as long as they can come back into the dressing room and look each other in the eye after the game, that's all we can ask for.

“Our best just wasn't good enough to get the result but I don't think there was anything between the sides.

“There is a disappointed group of players in the dressing room but I'm a very proud manager.

“Apart from the result, it was a proud day for myself.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph