CYRIEL Dessers did not look like a man who allowed boos from the stands or criticism in the media to affect him at Hampden yesterday as he scored the goals which sent Rangers through to a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final against Celtic next month.

Dessers was coolness personified in the fifth minute when he broke the deadlock in the last four encounter with Hearts and he kept his composure well with 12 minutes of regulation time to effectively sew up the victory.

Yet, as the Nigerian striker, a £4.5m signing from Cremonese in Italy last summer, looked back on one of his best games in a light blue jersey after a deserved 2-0 win, he confessed the flak which had flown in his direction earlier this season had a detrimental impact on his confidence.

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“At the start I think it got to me,” he said after taking his tally for club and country in the 2023/24 campaign to 20 with his double and picking up the sponsor’s Man of the Match award as a result.

The former Utrecht, Genk and Feyenoord front man believes that learning how to cope with the pressure of leading the line for Rangers has enabled him to come good in the final third and silence his doubters.

He is convinced that his team mates, who were savaged last week after losing 3-2 to Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium and drawing 0-0 with Dundee at Dens Park in the cinch Premiership, have done so as well. 

So much so, in fact, that he backed the Viaplay Cup winners, who are three points behind Celtic in the league with five games remaining, to shine during the run-in and land more silverware.

He is convinced, despite their position in the table, they are the best team in the country on their day and is hopeful they can show it.

The Herald: “I don’t know what the talk outside our training ground was,” he said. “Inside, we were pretty calm and composed. We didn’t lose confidence because we have shown for months what we can do as a team. We just have to find that rhythm.

“It’s important to close out the noise. But after a few months, or for a few guys a couple of years, we have the experience of that. You have to stay focused, in these weeks you have to block out the noise.

“That’s something I learned from as well. Now I have everything in line, in my head as well. When there’s noise now I can shut it out and I think that’s what we all need to do over the next few weeks.”

“It’s not been easy, it’s not the first time this season either. But after a difficult week or result we always bounce back and we did so again against Hearts.

“Obviously, all eyes in the country were on us and what we were going to do after the last two results. But if you can show this character, at Hampden, in a semi-final, against a good team then I think that says a lot about this team.”

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Dessers continued: "We have six more games and everything to play for. It's a new league starting next weekend and we know what we have to do to win the title. Hopefully we can execute that on the pitch.

"The pressure is rising after the week we had. To do it in the big moments today against a good team, I think we be happy with the performance and result. We can look with confidence to the next games. I want more goals, I want more wins, and hopefully, more trophies as well.

"If you look at the last months, we showed what we're capable of. It's just the thing to find this vibe back. If we can find that rhythm back, I think we're the best team in the league."

The 29-year-old will certainly not, with a difficult Premiership match against St Mirren in Paisley coming up on Sunday, be wallowing in the afterglow of his semi-final double for very long.

"I'm really happy with the goals,” he said. “That was a beautiful day to do that in front our fans at Hampden, that was special. Today I could have played better. When you score two goals in a semi-final, you have to be happy with that, but we want more.”

The Herald: Rangers striker Cyriel Dessers celebrates his second goal against Hearts in the Scottish Gas