Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said his side showed a strong mentality to overcome Celtic in their Scottish Cup tie – and that there was heart and desire in abundance.
An acrobatic finish from Steven Davis and an own goal from Jonjoe Kenny gave the Ibrox side a 2-0 win over their rivals and set up a quarter-final clash with St Johnstone as Rangers look to add the cup to their league triumph.
Gerrard was delighted with how his side handled the occasion and got through some difficult spells, with Celtic creating chances they didn’t take, including a second half penalty that Allan McGregor saved from Odsonne Edouard.
“We were really strong and we’ve delivered under pressure again,” the Rangers boss said.
“We showed a really strong mentality and everyone was in sync and in line with what we needed today. We challenged them from an individual point of view and they’ve all delivered.
“The mentality has been top. We have been questioned in recent years about mentality and consistency, and rightly so because sometimes we have come up short.
“But this season, so far, there is only St Mirren where you can be critical and that was on me.
“I took that away from the players, I made the changes and I was responsible for that.
“From a European point of view, incredible mentality and our performance level to get to where we have got to.
“From a league point of view, we won it in March, which is unheard of, and now it is about keeping our standards levels and performance levels for as long as we can and all the way to what will hopefully be May 22.”
The former Liverpool captain said that his side’ success this season wasn’t just about technical ability but about the attitude the players married to their talent.
“When I look around the group, the dressing room and the bus, I have got plenty of hearts beating behind me, plenty of them in abundance,” he said.
“No one can ever doubt my players in that capacity, when you are talking about endeavour, heart, desire. We have got loads of that.
“You need good footballers and you need talent, for sure. Especially at a club like this where the responsibility and the pressure is to deliver and win and be consistent.
“But, there is no point just having talent. You have got to have good people, people who are willing to put their body on the line – and that all comes from heart, passion and desire.
“That is what these fans demand and what they deserve and it is my job to bring people in who are prepared to give them that.”
Rangers now face St Johnstone twice in the next week, travelling to Perth in midweek in the Premiership and hoping to keep an unbeaten league season running, before hosting Callum Davidson’s side in the cup tie next weekend. While the cup competition, and the chance to do a domestic double, is top priority, Gerrard won’t look too far ahead.
“We’ve got a league game on Wednesday night that I’ll make a couple of changes for and we’ll try to continue to stay unbeaten from a league point of view,” he said. “And we’ll try and have the lads ready for what’s now a huge game, and a priority, at the weekend.
“We won’t focus any further than that because it would be foolish and disrespectful to the people left in the competition. St Johnstone will pose two tests for us this week and we’ll have to be ready for both tests.”