Leon Balogun happy with Rangers’ resilience after semi-final victory over Hearts

By Sports Desk April 22, 2024

Leon Balogun believes Rangers showed resilience to overcome Hearts 2-0 in their Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday.

Eyebrows were raised when Gers boss Philippe Clement left regular centre-back Connor Goldson on the bench with the 35-year-old Nigeria international Balogun making his first start since a 3-0 win over Livingston at Ibrox on February 3.

After 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 the cinch Premiership in Dingwall the previous Sunday, the pressure was on the Ibrox side.

However, a Cyriel Dessers double set up an Old Firm final on May 25, the first since 2002.

Balogun, in his second spell at the Ibrox club, said: “I think at this club, it felt like we had a few horrible weeks and it’s been two games only, obviously very important games, but within a week.

“So I think it was very important to bounce back against a team that has put in good performances in every game we have played this season so far.

“They never make it easy for us and certainly didn’t on Sunday.

“But it felt good to be out there and show some resilience and get a good result, 2-0 and a clean sheet. Overall I can be can be happy.

“For me, it was just to make sure to prepare well and to have a good start to the game and do what I’m supposed to do and serve the team.

“I think overall as a team, as a unit, we did really well.”

Balogun revealed Clement has tried to keep the Rangers squad focused on the positives during the recent ropey spell which leaves the Light Blues three points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic.

The Light Blues begin their five post-split fixtures next weekend with a trip to St Mirren on Sunday.

He said: “He’s been really good with us because he makes sure that we don’t get too emotional because it’s always very easy to watch those games back and then just feel sorry for yourself, talk yourself down.

“He just reminded us of things that, even though we had bad performances, we still did good.

“He makes sure that he reminds us of what we have to do and repeats that quite heavily as well.

“Then you can see throughout the training sessions how the confidence slowly builds back up.

“I think it’s not a surprise that we had a few difficult spells in the game on Sunday as well.

“But then again, we showed the character that he was able to instil in the team.”

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