A very different Rangers side qualified for the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Annan Athletic at Galabank.
Fit-again defender Filip Helander headlined Gers’ opener after seven minutes before strikers Kemar Roofe and Fashion Sakala added fresh first-half goals to end any hopes for the League side 2 to deliver a shock.
Annan’s manager Peter Murphy had said the Light Blues would have ‘failed’ if they hadn’t put four or five goals past his side, but it could well have been that and more as the team Giovanni van Bronckhorst negotiated bad weather and artificial terrain as well as a home fighting team with consummate professionalism.
The last time Rangers visited Annan was in 2013 when they met in the Third Division as the Light Blues began to return to the leagues after reappearing in the lower tier as a result of a financial collapse.
This time, Ibrox’s men arrived in Annan as Scottish champions, but boss Van Bronckhorst changed the whole squad after the midweek win over Hibernian.
Notably, on loan Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey made his first start, Helander played for the first time in five months after recovering from a knee injury and there was a debut for Mateusz Zukowski, the new recruit from Lechia Gdansk.
Curiously, Annan, fourth in League Two, named manager Murphy, assistant Colin McMenamin and goalkeeper coach Jon Connolly among the 11 authorized substitutes.
Meanwhile, Kevin van Veen continued to torment Aberdeen like Motherwell came from behind to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.
Christian Ramirez steered the visitors to a third-minute lead at Fir Park, but two late first-half goals turned the tables.
Van Veen scored his fourth goal of the season against Aberdeen to equalize and Connor Shields scored from close range to give Motherwell a 2-1 victory.
A first-half thunderbolt from Ian Harkes sent Dundee United in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals as they beat Partick Thistle 1-0 at Firhill.
The American’s sweet first strike from just outside the box settled a close game as United knocked out the Maryhill side for the second time in consecutive seasons.
The hosts dominated long stretches of the game but could not find the breakthrough as United, the semi-finalists beaten last year, secured their safe passage into the last eight.
St. Mirren qualified for the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-0 win at home against Kelty Hearts.
A first-half strike from Alex Greive and second-half goals from Jordan Jones and a brace from Greg Kiltie ensured the Saints’ safe passage until Monday night’s draw.
The League Two leaders had shocked holders St Johnstone in the previous round but never seemed to want to cause another upset here once they fell behind.
Craig Gordon drew applause from both managers after his heroics on penalties saw Hearts in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup after defeating Livingston following a goalless draw.
Scotland goalkeeper Gordon was the hero after saving from Ayo Obileye to send the Gorgie side 4-3 down on penalties after 120 minutes of scoreless action, and Hearts boss Robbie Neilson says that his presence in goal was a huge factor.
He said: “If I was an opposition player and Craig Gordon was in goal I would have a squeaky ass for sure!
“I think they all hit their penalties really well. We asked them to go get their spot and go hit it and to their credit, they did.”
Livingston manager David Martindale added: “It’s painful. I feel sorry for the players.
“I don’t buy into the idea that penalties are a lottery. It’s about ability and mentality. Craig Gordon is an imposing figure in the opposition goal.”
Hearts had dominated long periods of possession but lacked an edge in attack, with Barrie McKay, Peter Haring, Ellis Simms and John Souttar all denied by Lions keeper Max Stryjek.
Livingston hit the post in the second half through Scott Pittman but Hearts – losers of the delayed 2020 final to Celtic, also on penalties – prevailed.
Glass vows not to leave Aberdeen
Stephen Glass claimed Aberdeen needed stability as he told angry fans he would not be leaving following their Scottish Cup exit at Motherwell.
Some of the 2,000 visiting fans stayed to vent their fury at Glass and many of the players as they climbed the stairs to the Tommy McLean Stand after the 2-1 loss.
Aberdeen sit ninth in the Premiership cinch having picked up a point in their last four games and a Premier Sports Cup exit to Raith Rovers sparked a poor run earlier in the season.
Glass said: “If I didn’t think it was working I would leave but I feel like you see the fight in the squad sometimes. I think we’ve had enough.
“Anytime the club here have done well, there has been stability. If instability is the answer, you know what will happen.
“I am fully aware of the pressures at the club. I came into the club full-time at 16, there was pressure to get into a team, into a team that was fighting relegation. I managed to help them to avoid this, won a cup, and since I left, a trophy came back.
“Nobody needs to tell me how big this football club is, nobody needs to tell me what it takes to get out of sticky situations, and if instability is the answer then you know what’s going to happen.
“The club have seen what happens when you cut and change managers every two years, like they did when I was playing. You end up where you shouldn’t be.”