Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn says the Dons’ work on set pieces gives them a way to win when their backs are against the wall.
The Reds recorded another famous win over Rangers at Hampden by beating the Ibrox side 1-0 in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
It was a game of few chances and a lot of Rangers possession, but the Northern Irishman thinks Derek McInnes’s team grabbing a return visit to the national stadium to play Celtic in December was the product of hard work on and off the pitch.
During a sustained period of Gers pressure at the start of the second half, the Dons had to keep their shape, composure and the score at 0-0.
They eventually found their way back into the game, and a late corner – something practised frequently on training pitches around the Granite City and taken by McGinn – saw 19-year-old Lewis Ferguson bullet Aberdeen’s big chance past Allan McGregor.
McGinn, who is one of three Reds who played on Sunday to have won the League Cup under McInnes in 2013/14, said: “It was a very hard game. Rangers are a team full of very good players.
“They had possession, pace, got the ball wide to create chances, but I thought we nullified that a lot.
“They only had one shot on target, which was pleasing for us as a group of players.
“We couldn’t create nine, 10 or 11 chances, but we work hard on set pieces and have a team full of good players who can attack balls, with me and Gaz (Gary Mackay-Steven) able to create those chances.
“All in all, we’ve won the game and we can’t complain.”
In a relatively even first half on Mount Florida, McGinn blazed a shot over after good work by Gary Mackay-Steven and Scott Wright.
The 31-year-old says, over the piece, Aberdeen know they could have played better when they had possession.
The spell after the break was long and nervy, with the Reds struggling to find an out ball when they won it back.
This problem was solved when the isolated James Wilson was partnered by sub Stevie May up front, creating movement and space.
McGinn said: “We just (discussed finding a way) to get in behind them a bit more.
“We could’ve done a lot better on the ball and maybe got it wider and created a few chances.
“It was difficult at times with them playing a high line.”
However, cup semi-finals can be all about staying in it and taking opportunities when they come.
The veteran was full of praise for big-game goalscorer Ferguson for being the man to fire the Reds into their third cup final in three seasons, after the dual League Cup and Scottish Cup showpiece losses to Celtic in 2016/17.
Ferguson also scored a wonderful overhead kick against Burnley in Europe League qualifying and has established himself as a mainstay of McInnes’s side, playing both at the base and top of midfield this term.
McGinn said: “He is (making a habit of it). He got himself in the right place at the right time; he’s gaining experience and it was great to see him get up and get the goal.
“We won the game and hopefully we can use that now to help our league form, after beating Rangers at Hampden.”
On watching his 79th-minute right-footed corner finding Ferguson’s head and the chaotic, jubilant scenes among the players and Red Army afterwards, McGinn said: “(I was) obviously overjoyed. It was a great feeling when I saw Fergie pop up and the ball hit the back of the net.
“It was just a difficult game for us. We worked very hard and got our just rewards in the end.”