Aberdeen’s dramatic late win over Rangers at Hampden was a brilliant, hard- fought result.
Derek McInnes’ team’s performance, much like Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, didn’t hit the heights either would have liked or maybe even expected.
The Gers had a lot of the ball at Hampden, dominating possession and putting the Reds under good, prolonged spells of pressure – however, they did this without creating too many clear-cut chances.
At the back, I thought the Dons’ defending could have been improved at times and they rode their luck in spells.
There were moments in the first-half where Rangers’ leggy striker Umar Sadiq was able to get in behind Scott McKenna and Mikey Devlin and into good positions, although he and his team-mates never really looked like scoring.
Rangers have shown in their make-up this season they need more quality with regards their final ball and I don’t think Joe Lewis would have been unduly worried at any point.
Daniel Candeias flew down the wing several times, but produced nothing of note at the end of it.
All this being said, the most important thing in any semi-final, not least against one of Glasgow’s big two, is to find a way to progress.
Aberdeen achieved this and showed courage, even after the worrying sight of Andrew Considine being stretchered off with a suspected neck injury – it could have served as a psychological hammer blow, but the Dons held it together.
Lewis Ferguson’s goal, from a pin-point Niall McGinn corner, was against the run of play – the only Reds chance of the second half. But they took it when it came.
It sparked wild scenes of celebration among the outnumbered Reds support, who all game pushed their team on, even when they were struggling to get the ball back.
But once McInnes’ team took the lead, it knocked the stuffing out of the Ibrox side.
It was a professional, confident Aberdeen, enjoying their best spell of the match once they went 1-0 up. I never thought in the last 10-15 minutes they wouldn’t see it through.
Another final lies in wait now, their first since the twin final losses to the Hoops in 2016/17, scheduled for December 2.
This will be another hard game, against another, better Glasgow team – this time it’s the champions, who dismantled early league leaders Hearts at Murrayfield.
McInnes will hope the win over Rangers serves as a confidence-building catalyst for the rest of the campaign, starting with Hamilton at Pittodrie on Wednesday, but continuing through to the Celtic match at Hampden.
They won’t be kidding themselves – lifting the Betfred Cup and stopping the first leg of the treble-treble is a massive ask.
Aberdeen are seventh in the Premiership table after nine games, but this could all change now they’ve got such a huge win under their belt.
They’ve had a slow start to the campaign while teams like Hearts, Livingston and Hibs have been flying, with question marks remaining about who is the main goalscorer in the attacking part of the pitch.
Digging in, sticking to the game plan and taking the chance – in my career I always found this to be the best way to start finding your way out of a difficult spell and to silence the critics.