Philippe Clement has lifted his first trophy as Rangers manager after seeing his side beat Aberdeen to clinch the Viaplay Cup at Hampden.

Rangers returned from their historic victory over Real Betis on Thursday night to enjoy another huge boost to their Premiership title bid after Celtic were beaten by Hearts. And a dream weekend was capped as James Tavernier netted the only goal of the game to see off the Dons.

Clement’s side squandered a handful of chances but were well worth their triumph as Tavernier fired home at the back post with 13 minutes remaining to secure the silverware. Could it be the first of three this season?

First trophy can be the kickstart for Clement

This was a win for the players, for the supporters and for the club. It was a hugely significant one for Clement as well, though, as the Belgian lifted silverware at the first time of asking. The impact that Clement has made since replacing Michael Beale as boss cannot be understated or underestimated. A squad that seemed destined for another trophyless campaign now has one in the bag and can dare of dream of another two. A first League Cup win in more than a decade can now become the platform for Rangers to build on. Too many of these players have failed too often in recent seasons but Clement has brought belief back on and off the park. The scenes of celebration at the whistle told their own story. This was a day to remember for Clement one that was even more important for a long-suffering support. You cannot say that Rangers fans didn’t deserve this one at Hampden.

Chris Jack

Rangers are deserved winners

The first half was up there with the most forgettable periods of football that Rangers have played this season. And there is plenty of contenders for top spot in that particular league table. It was a game played in a style that suited Aberdeen. Rangers couldn’t find their rhythm and couldn’t play at their tempo and the chances that were carved out – most notably as Abdallah Sima spun and saw his effort saved low by Kelle Roos – were hardly gilt-edged ones for Clement’s side.

Leon Balogun headed wide after Rangers recycled a corner and Ross McCausland had a couple of openings from Borna Barisic corners. Through it all, Clement cut a frustrated figure. McCausland combined well with Dessers but he didn’t have full control of the ball and his effort lacked conviction before Balogun nodded wide. The stage seemed set for Tavernier but his free-kick, which came just after the best chance of the afternoon as Dessers was denied, was well saved.

When Balogun fired over from 12 yards after meeting a Todd Cantwell cross, the chances were beginning to stack up. Tavernier then came to the fore and won it. Ultimately, that is all that matters in cup games, and certainly in cup finals. This wasn’t pretty, but it was effective for Rangers. It was a win that was more than merited at Hampden.

Chris Jack

Tavernier stands up and delivers

It just had to be Tavernier. This was his day, this was his moment. After so many lows, this was a high for the captain to savour and cherish. It was a 14th goal of the campaign for Tavernier. He has not scored a more important one. Indeed, there will be few in his career that will mean as much to him than this one. Rangers have scored countless goals like this over recent seasons as one full-back provided the assist for the other. Barisic whipped in a cross from the left and Tavernier was in place at the back post.

His first touch brought the ball under the control. His second saw him dispatch it beyond the keeper as he shot down into the ground and the ball bounced before rippling the net. The scenes said it all. Tavernier burst towards those in red, white and blue and the now trademark baseball bat celebration followed. Within seconds, Tavernier was swamped by his team-mates.

There is nobody within this squad who has been through as much as the Englishman. There will be few within the group that will acknowledge the significance of this achievement. Tavernier stepped up once again when Rangers needed him most. The script was perhaps written for it to end this way at Hampden.

Chris Jack

The battle for control

Rangers hadn’t beaten Aberdeen in two attempts heading into today’s final and at half time, Barry Robson would likely have been the happier of the two managers. His team’s aggressive man-for-man press was able to effectively limit Rangers given Cyriel Dessers was not winning duels and providing a platform to play over the top. Clement’s side have been effective at playing over the top of pressure into the path of Abdalla Sima or, more recently, around opponents from the right in their build-up. But an aggressive three-man defence and wing-backs allowed Aberdeen to normally win duels when facing the former and match their opponents’ width when the latter was attempted. Rangers hadn’t conceded chances before the interval but this was a game full of variables - the number of high balls and seconds made any form of control fleeting. Sima started to get closer to Dessers in the second half and one slick move through pressure on the right just after the break showed a change in attack. Dessers started to provide his team something to work with, Todd Cantwell was on the ball far more frequently driving his team forwards and creating in a way he had not before the break.

As Aberdeen tired the Ibrox side managed to gain territory and build a succession of opportunities that never materialised in the opening 45 minutes. Rangers have long-term issues to solve in the midfield. They must become a team capable of playing through the middle and controlling the ball but yet again, this was a tactical example of Clement getting the most of the tools he has available.

Joshua Barrie

Dessers can’t kick on after Betis heroics

There must have been many seated in the away end who wondered if Rangers had brought the wrong man back with them from Seville on Friday afternoon. The Dessers that lumbered around during the first half was a shadow of the one that was a hero against Betis just days previously. Outfought and outthought almost every time the ball was close to him, the Nigerian offered nothing during a dreadful 45 minutes. At that stage, conversations would surely have centred on Kemar Roofe and how long Clement could ask him to play on the back of his own European efforts.

Rangers needed Dessers to be strong with his back to goal, to hold up the ball and bring others into play. Instead, a series of moves broke down prematurely when he got involved. Once again, Dessers carried no threat and looked like a man ill-equipped for the job of Rangers centre forward.

He almost silenced his critics in spectacular fashion. After brushing off Slobodan Rubezic on the touchline, he ventured into the area and worked himself space. Unlike his goal against Betis, the keeper was equal to the shot on this occasion as his final chance came and went.

Chris Jack