A much-changed Rangers side cruised into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a commanding 3-0 win over Annan Athletic at Galabank.
Fit-again defender Filip Helander headed in the Gers’ opener after seven minutes before attackers Kemar Roofe and Fashion Sakala added further goals in the first half to end any hopes of the League Two side providing a shock.
Annan manager Peter Murphy had said the Light Blues would have “failed” if they did not put four or five goals past his side but it may well have been that and more as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side negotiated the foul weather and artificial pitch as well as a battling home side with consummate professionalism.
The last time Rangers traveled to Annan was in 2013 when they met in the Third Division as the Light Blues began making their way back through the leagues after re-emerging in the bottom tier following financial meltdown.
This time the Ibrox men arrived in Annan as champions of Scotland, but boss Van Bronckhorst changed the whole team following the midweek win over Hibernian.
Notably, on-loan Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey made his first start, Helander featured for the first time in five months after recovering from a knee injury and there was a debut for Mateusz Zukowski, the new signing from Lechia Gdansk.
Peculiarly, Annan, fourth in League Two, named manager Murphy, assistant Colin McMenamin and goalkeeping coach Jon Connolly among the 11 substitutes allowed.
Meanwhile, Kevin van Veen continued to torment Aberdeen as Motherwell came from behind to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.
Christian Ramirez headed the visitors into a third-minute lead at Fir Park but two goals late in the first half turned the game around.
Van Veen hit his fourth goal of the season against Aberdeen to level and Connor Shields netted from close range to earn Motherwell a 2-1 victory.
A first-half thunderbolt from Ian Harkes sent Dundee United into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals as they defeated Partick Thistle 1-0 at Firhill.
The American’s sweet first-time strike from just outside the box settled a tight contest as United knocked out the Maryhill side for the second time in successive seasons.
The hosts dominated large periods of the game but they could not find the breakthrough as United, last year’s beaten semi-finalists, safely secured their passage into the last eight.
St Mirren eased into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-0 home victory over Kelty Hearts.
A first-half strike from Alex Greive and second-half goals from Jordan Jones and a Greg Kiltie double ensured Saints’ safe passage through to Monday night’s draw.
The League Two leaders had shocked holders St Johnstone in the previous round but never looked like pulling off another upset here once they had fallen behind.
Craig Gordon drew the plaudits from both managers after his penalty shoot-out heroics saw Hearts into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals after overcoming Livingston following a goalless draw.
Scotland goalkeeper Gordon was the hero after saving from Ayo Obileye to send the Gorgie outfit through 4-3 on penalties following 120 minutes of goalless action, and Hearts boss Robbie Neilson said his presence in goal was a huge factor.
He said: “If I was an opposition player stepping up and Craig Gordon was in goal I would have a squeaky bum, that’s for sure!
“I thought they all struck their penalties really well. We asked them to go and pick their spot and go and hit it and to their credit they did that.”
Livingston manager David Martindale added: “It’s a sore one. I feel sorry for the players.
“I do not 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 spells of possession but lacked a cutting edge in attack, with Barrie McKay, Peter Haring, Ellis Simms and John Souttar all denied by Lions goalkeeper Max Stryjek.
Livingston did strike 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 walk away from Aberdeen
Stephen Glass claimed Aberdeen need stability as he told angry fans he would not walk away in the wake of their Scottish Cup exit at Motherwell.
Some of the 2,000 visiting fans stayed behind to vent their fury at Glass and many of the players as they walked up the staircase in the Tommy McLean Stand after the 2-1 defeat.
Aberdeen sit ninth in the cinch Premiership after taking one point from their last four games and a Premier Sports Cup exit against Raith Rovers sparked a poor run earlier in the season.
Glass said: “If I did not think it was working I would walk away but I feel like you see the fight in the team at times. I think we have enough.
“Any time the club here has done well there has been stability. If instability is the answer then you know what will happen.
“I’m fully aware of the pressures of the club. I came into the club full-time at 16, there was pressure to get in a team, into a team that was fighting relegation. I managed to help them stave that off, won a cup, and since I left there’s been one trophy come 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 will happen.
“The club has seen what happens when you chop and change managers every couple of years, like they did when I was playing. You end up where you should not be.”