Philippe Clement says Rangers’ return to winning ways was ‘what I demanded’

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Philippe Clement insists Rangers reacted as he expected after getting back to winning ways with a 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Hearts at Hampden Park.

The Light Blues went into the game with just two wins in eight in all competitions and on the back of a goalless draw against Dundee on Wednesday night which followed their first ever defeat by Ross County in their cinch Premiership encounter in Dingwall last Sunday.

The Gers boss, who raised eyebrows by dropping regular centre-back Connor Goldson in a reshuffle, saw striker Cyriel Dessers score a goal in each half to set up a date with Celtic on May 25 – the first Old Firm final since 2002.

“To say it’s pleasing it not a good word,” said Clement, who revealed attacker Abdallah Sima will be assessed in the next couple of days after going off early with an injury.

“It’s what I expected. It’s what I demanded, it’s what I wanted.

“It was what I knew I would get from the team, also. I was totally not pleased about the game after Ross County, with how we lost our structure and lost our normal football.

“Against Dundee, we were too much in a rush to score a goal and today we found the right balance again, what we have been doing for a lot of months.

“But it’s been challenging in the last couple of months with all the injuries and players in and out.

“We have been lacking rhythm. But today, if you see the bench, it is stronger again and that’s going to be important in the next couple of weeks when it’s one game a week.

“Before these cup semi-finals we were the only team that played during the week. It makes a different and you need to look at that if you have three games in seven or eight days.

“With players coming out of injury you cannot let them play all the minutes. It’s been a puzzle around that but now, in this last part of the season, it’s going to be a challenge in the squad with players coming back.

“Quality then rises in the training and quality rises in the game also because we have a strong bench.”

Hearts boss Steven Naismith blamed “immaturity” for failing to make more of their attacking play.

“Frustrated, disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “That is the overriding emotion.

“We got off to a terrible start, we can’t lose cheap, early goal like we did.

“But the reaction from then until the second goal was good.

“I thought we controlled the ball a lot, created opportunities and what you see is our immaturity in the final third.

“We had four or five really good situations and we either pick the wrong option, or the wrong pass or we don’t get the finish.

“And these are moments when we must hit the target or make the goalkeeper make a save or score a goal.

“That is the biggest frustration for me because we get good opportunities that we didn’t take and the goals we conceded were cheap.”

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