IT is still another month until the stars of the big screen gather at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood for the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

But Saturday evening at Ibrox was very much Oscar night.

Rangers’ performance in their Scottish Cup fifth round win over Championship club Ayr United was hardly deserving of a standing ovation.

Yes, Philippe Clement’s side did enough, courtesy of an early goal from Borna Barisic and a lateish strike by Fabio Silva, to see off Scott Brown’s team and secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition.

However, the cinch Premiership high flyers, who can leapfrog Celtic into top spot in the league table if they defeat managerless Ross County by three goals at home on Wednesday night, struggled to kill off their second tier opponents and the tension grew around the stadium as the tie wore on.

Rangers only really took full control of proceedings and completely convinced when Todd Cantwell, John Lundstram and Ridvan Yilmaz were thrown on in the second half.

READ MORERangers new boy embraces Philippe Clement's title mantra

That said, January signings Oscar Cortes, who picked up the Man of the Match award at the end of the 90 minutes, and Mohamed Diomande, who was making his first start since the end of November, both highlighted why Clement had been so eager to secure their services.

Cortes, the Colombian winger who has joined on loan from French club Lens until the end of the season, in particular impressed.

He was direct, physical, pacey, comfortable on the ball, skilful and did not give Ayr right back Nick McAllister– who he, much to the delight of the crowd, nutmegged at one point – a moment to relax.

The Herald: New Rangers signing Mohamed Diomande, right, trains with Ibrox captain James Tavernier atRabbi Matondo has done well in the absence of the injured Abdallah Sima since play resumed after the winter break. He netted in the Premiership wins over Livingston and Aberdeen at home this month. But the Welsh internationalist has serious competition for his place now.

Diomande, who slotted into the No 10 berth vacated by the on-form Cantwell, admitted that he had enjoyed playing inside Cortes afterwards.

“Oscar is a good player,” he said. “He is good in one-on-one situations. It is good that the gaffer got him. He will make the team stronger. I think he is a good player who can help the group to win something. I am happy that he is also here because he is a good player.”

The Ivorian, who moved to Rangers in a £4.5m transfer from Nordsjaelland in Denmark during the winter window, will need more time to get up to speed given how long he has been out of action. Still, he showed flashes of what he is capable of. Not least when he had an overhead kick headed off the Ayr goal line in the second half.    

“I thought that was going in,” he said. “But I hope that in the next game I am going to score.

“It was tough for me, but it was good for me to play some minutes. I made use of the minutes I got. It is good to get back to competitive games again. I am happy the manager gave me enough minutes to push myself.

“The most important thing was to win and I think the boys did well. In the first 20 minutes we were in control of the game. It dropped a bit in the last 15 minutes of the first half, but I am happy we got the win.”

READ MORE: Philippe Clement's team beat Scott Brown's side to progress

The versatile footballer played in a slightly unfamiliar role just off lone striker Silva. The box-to-box midfielder, though, acquitted himself well there. He stressed that he is content to be deployed in a number of different areas going forward.

“I can play anywhere in the middle,” he said. “So I can play No 6, No 8 and No 10 also. I just use my opportunity to help the team. Wherever the manager plays me, I am just going to try and do my best for the team. My position is No 8, but I can play anywhere in the middle.”

The way the 22-year-old coped with playing in front of a 43,454-strong crowd at Ibrox at the weekend augurs well for his future in Glasgow. He has spent the past five seasons plying his trade at the Right to Dream Park, a stadium which only has a 9,800 capacity. But he positively revelled in the experience. 

“It is something different for me,” he said. “In Nordsjaelland we would have 5,000 or 6,000 spectators. Coming here is a massive transition. But I think it will give me the adrenaline to push myself because I know there are people behind me who are supporting me and cheering me. It will just give me motivation to push hard for the team.”

The Herald: Cantwell, who has got back to his best of late after putting his injury issues firmly behind him, made a real impact after replacing Diomande on the hour mark on Saturday. It was the playmaker’s chip into the Ayr six yard box which led to Rangers’ all-important second goal.

Clement will doubtless give the Englishman, who has been on target five times in last eight starts, the nod for the league encounter with County in midweek.

But will Cortes be preferred to Matondo out wide? There is every chance. It is exactly the sort of selection headache which the Belgian would like to have in every position on the park.

His January recruits appear to have strengthened his squad considerably and increased the Viaplay Cup champions’ chances of landing further silverware in the second half of the season.