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Rangers shocked after Scottish Cup penalty shootout as St Johnstone goalkeeper the hero
Earlier Dundee United cruised into the semis at Aberdeen’s expense

LAST UPDATE | Apr 25th 2021, 9:27 PM

ZANDER CLARK WAS a hero in both boxes for St Johnstone as Callum Davidson’s team wrecked Rangers’ double dream with a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory in the Scottish Cup.

rangers-v-st-johnstone-scottish-cup-quarter-final-ibrox-stadium PA Zander Clark celebrates after St Johnstone's late equaliser. PA

The Saints keeper pulled off two crucial saves during a tense 90 minutes to keep Steven Gerrard’s Scottish Premiership champions at bay.

James Tavernier finally found a way past him with four minutes left of extra-time as Gers looked to have snatched the win.

But Clark was the shock dangerman in the 122nd minute as he raced forward for a corner, with his header teeing up Chris Kane to make it 1-1.

The 28-year-old was not done there, though, as he pulled off two saves in the shoot-out, with Ali McCann’s winning kick firing the Betfred Cup winners back to Hampden.

In the process, St Johnstone became the first Scottish team to beat Rangers at Ibrox this term.

rangers-v-st-johnstone-scottish-cup-quarter-final-ibrox-stadium PA St Johnstone players celebrate. PA

While Saints will now dream of doing their own double, the result sees Gerrard’s cup curse strike again – with the Rangers boss now failing to lift a domestic knock-out trophy in six attempts since his 2018 appointment.

Like Wednesday’s league encounter between the sides, St Johnstone were given plenty of encouragement to advance on Allan McGregor’s goal as Gers took a lukewarm approach to protecting possession.

The Light Blues number one had to make a fine save as Scott Tanser connected with a first-time volley as Liam Craig pulled a corner back to the edge of the box.

Alfredo Morelos fired over from close range with the only other big chance created before the break as Filip Helander flicked on Borna Barisic’s out-swinging corner.

But most of the first-half spotlight fell on referee Alan Muir’s performance.

His first big call was to wave away Rangers penalty claims as Morelos went down insisting he had been pushed by Shaun Rooney on the quarter-hour mark.

rangers-v-st-johnstone-scottish-cup-quarter-final-ibrox-stadium PA Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. PA

Muir then took no action either when Stevie May ran into Helander’s outstretched arm.

He probably got both calls right but there was no hiding the leniency he showed to David Wotherspoon as the Saints midfielder flew into Ianis Hagi with a dangerously high foot just before the interval.

There was no surprise to see Rangers return with increased intensity following their half-time chat with Gerrard.

But Morelos’ finishing was no sharper as he wasted two golden opportunities – first heading a fabulous Tavernier cross against a post before seeing Clark come up with a stunning save to deny his next effort after more impressive work out wide by Ryan Kent.

Saints substitute Michael O’Halloran almost snatched it after bundling over Helander – but saw two attempts blocked.

And the McDiarmid men had Clark to thank that they made it to extra-time as he pulled off another reflex save as Scott Wright and Kemar Roofe carved their way through the visitors with just five minutes to go.

He continued to rack up the saves, pushing away a Helander shot while McCann’s was just as heroic as he raced back to halt Kent’s blistering surge on goal.

St Johnstone spent the first additional 15 minutes under siege but it was Gers who held their breath as the second half got under way, with Rooney drilling just wide before McGregor had to make another huge save to deny O’Halloran.

Gers thought they had snatched it with four minutes left as Tavernier – just back from a two-month injury lay-off – bolted forward with four minutes remaining to head home from Joe Aribo’s cross.

But the drama was not done there as Clark proved just as handy in the opposition box as his own. With 122 minutes on the clock, he was incredibly allowed to wander into the six-yard box unmarked and flick on Craig’s corner for Kane to bundle home.

And Clark carried on his superman act by pushing away efforts from Tavernier and Roofe in the shoot-out as McCann’s kick took Saints back to Hampden.

Earlier Dundee United cruised into the Scottish Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 destruction of Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

dundee-united-v-rangers-scottish-premiership-tannadice-park PA Dundee United brushed off Aberdeen to progress to the last four (file pic). PA

Striker Marc McNulty drove the high-tempo Tangerines ahead in the 17th minute before defender Ryan Edwards headed in a second after 37 minutes, and the interval lead could have been more.

The home side, passive in the first half, were initially more aggressive after the break but McNulty, on loan from Reading, grabbed his second following a slick break in the 54th minute to extinguish any hope of an unlikely Dons revival.

It was the Tayside club’s first Scottish Cup win at Pittodrie and will be their first semi-final appearance in the tournament since 2016.

It was also a first defeat for Stephen Glass in his third game in charge of the Dons and he will now turn his attention to catching third-placed Hibernian in the Premiership.

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Aberdeen, with 17-year-old right-back Calvin Ramsay in for the injured Ross McCrorie, were first to threaten.

Striker Callum Hendry drove high over the crossbar from a Jonny Hayes cross in the eighth minute.

United goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet then made a double save, first from Matty Kennedy’s drive from the edge of the box before deflecting Hendry’s angled drive from the rebound over the bar with his legs.

After that, the Terrors took over.

Edwards, Mark Reynolds, Calum Butcher, McNulty, Nicky Clark and Lawrence Shankland all started after being left out in midweek against Kilmarnock and the attacking trio were all involved in the opener.

After Aberdeen attacker Florian Kamberi lost possession with a heavy touch, Clark moved the ball quickly to Shankland and he set up McNulty to beat goalkeeper Gary Woods with a fine finish, stunning the home side.

United opened up the Dons defence once again shortly afterwards and midfielder Ian Harkes was only inches away from reaching McNulty’s cross at the back post.

Midfielder Jeando Fuchs raced onto a Reynolds pass and drove straight at Woods before Clark struck the outside of a post with a curling shot from the edge of the box.

The home side were in disarray.

The second goal appeared inevitable and it came after Aberdeen’s Dean Campbell barged McNulty to the ground on the right. Clark’s free-kick into the six-yard box saw Edwards rise unchallenged to bullet a header past Woods.

After Mehmet tipped an Andrew Considine header over the bar United should have scored a third, but McNulty screwed his angled drive wide of the far post.

Aberdeen had it all to do and started the second half with more determination and a series of crosses had to be repelled.

However, McNulty punished them again when he played a one-two with Harkes and ran away from defender Tommie Hoban before slipping the ball under Woods to effectively kill the tie.

Mehmet made a save from a Niall McGinn drive and Aberdeen kept plugging away, but belief dissipated by the minute.

United ran out comfortable winners and can look forward to a Hampden Park semi-final next month.

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