The two Nigerians went the distance and more to guide the Light Blues on the path to silverware this season
Super Eagles stars Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey played crucial roles to help Rangers overcome Celtic 2-1 after extra time in the semifinals of the Scottish Cup in Hampden.
Despite retaining slim hopes of winning the Scottish Premiership and the Europa League, Aribo, Bassey, and their Rangers teammates knew the Scottish Cup was their only realistic chance of claiming silverware this term.
The Gers are through to the semifinal of the continental championship after downing Portuguese side Braga in midweek.
But with formidable German foes RB Leipzig still in the race, it would be hard to go all the way. And with Celtic holding a considerable distance in the league, Rangers’ hope of reclaiming the title they won last year is hanging by a thread.
Ahead of Sunday’s semifinal clash, Celtic led the derby count 2-1 against their bitter city rivals, with the Hoops demolishing Rangers 3-0 in early February and then prevailing 2-1 at Ibrox two weeks ago. Their first clash of the season went Rangers’ way, thanks to a Filip Helander header.
Still, the Gers were the better team during a breathless first half.
But Joe Aribo’s missed an unconvincing glancing header, John Lundstram’s sweet strike hit the post, and Kemar Roofe’s drilled effort, which went wide, were the closest the Light Blues came to opening the scoring.
Celtic, however, drew first blood just past the hour-mark when Taylor’s strike deflected in off Calvin Bassey.
But Scott Arfield rattled a fierce shot beyond Joe Hart in the 78th to level scores for the reigning champions.
There was nothing to separate the two sides during regulation, as the game entered extra time at Hampden.
Only on Thursday, Aribo, Bassey, and Rangers went for 120 minutes in their Europa League win over Braga.
But Calvin Bassey paid for his earlier error by forcing Starfelt to deflect a cross into his own goal to send Rangers into the final of the Scottish Cup.
Rangers will play Hearts in the final on May 21, as they search for their first Scottish Cup triumph since 2009.