TWO goals in the last two minutes edged Rangers into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup as their persistence finally paid off against plucky Falkirk.
The Light Blues looked set to be taken to a replay by the 10-man Bairns after Lee McCulloch missed a penalty.
But Nicky Law hit home in the final 60 seconds of normal time to give Ally McCoist’s men a lead they richly deserved, even if it took time to get it.
David Templeton then made sure of the success in injury time as he fired in to ensure his team will be in the hat when ex-Gers star Kenny Miller conducts the draw on Monday.
After looking as though they might fail to score for the first time this season, the Ibrox side have now won 18 games in a row.
The last time they did that was in the latter stages of 1992 and the team’s terrific run rumbles on into Tuesday’s home clash with Forfar.
Manager McCoist made just one change to the side which beat Arbroath 3-0 on Monday in League One and it was something of a surprise.
Fraser Aird, impressive in the first half particularly at Gayfield, dropped back to the bench as Arnold Peralta took his place in the first XI again.
Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was impeccably observed by fans of both sides following last night’s tragic helicopter crash in Glasgow city centre.
It was a fairly even start, with Lee Wallace crossing for Nicky Clark who just missed out at one end and a couple of early corners being forced at the other.
Ian Black had a go from distance as he tried to force the issue but while his shot was fierce and twisting, it was always going wide.
There was a flurry of activity in the Bairns goalmouth soon after, with Jon Daly’s shot blocked by keeper Michael McGovern.
Back came the hosts, with Phil Roberts dragging an effort off target too after Black slipped when trying to collect Wallace’s pass.
The action was swinging from end to end, with McCulloch heading Peralta’s corner over and Daly nodding into McGovern’s arms when he could arguably have done better.
In response, Falkirk forced another corner as Bilel Mohsni acted quickly to put the ball behind to prevent anything more damaging.
Neither side was settling into a sustained rhythm which made for an edgy atmosphere as each team took turns to press without making a breakthrough.
Gers nearly moved in front with the best opportunity yet after Wallace was played in by one of several terrific long balls upfield from Mohsni.
But the left-back found McGovern a tough man to get past and the Northern Ireland squad member stood up well to save.
The visitors were certainly knocking on the door though and McCulloch put another effort from a corner behind as half-time approached.
Rangers continued to push after the break, with Daly putting a header from Peralta’s corner over and Wallace driving past after a fluid move involved Macleod and Law.
Their pressure appeared to be paying off as 12 minutes into the second period they won a penalty and David McCracken was sent off.
It took referee Brian Colvin time to make a decision when Clark fell under the defender’s challenge in the box.
Indeed, it seemed at first as though he’d book the striker for simulation but when the red card emerged from the whistler’s pocket it was clearly intended for McCracken.
McCulloch stepped up to take the resulting spot kick but the skipper aimed right down the middle and McGovern saved with his legs.
The rebound fell to Law and he helped it back into the mix with the captain touching it into the net but this time he was correctly flagged offside.
That was a real let off for Falkirk, who sacrificed forward Roberts for Jonathan Flynn in order to shore up their back line.
Undeterred by the penalty miss, Gers applied more pressure and threw on Aird and Templeton for Peralta and Clark.
Aird’s impact was almost immediate as a short corner was cleared to him on the edge of the box and his shot crashed off the stanchion before the rebound was put out.
The Bairns were hanging on and struggling to get out of their own half but Rangers weren’t yet making them pay.
And as time ticked down with the away side perhaps showing a little too much patience at times, the prospect of a replay became more likely.
The fans reacted to that as the atmosphere became more fraught and Templeton had the ball nicked off his toe before Law curled straight at McGovern.
Wallace shot low from 25 yards but again the keeper saved and frustration was certainly taking its toll.
It seemed this just wasn’t to be Rangers’ day, with a Templeton attempt deflected away and McCulloch heading a yard too high.
But then, with the full-time whistle almost nigh, Law finally broke the deadlock as he slotted in after a free kick came in from the left to spark delirium in the stands.
The home team tried to hit back and Mark Millar blazed over the bar before Templeton made sure it would be the visitors who marched on as he rolled under McGovern in injury time.
FALKIRK: McGovern; Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Kingsley; Fulton (Alston 73), Millar, Sibbald, McGrandles; Roberts (Flynn 60), Loy (Shepherd 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Bowman, Durojaiye, Bingham, Leahy.
BOOKINGS: Roberts, Millar.
SENT OFF: McCracken.
RANGERS: Bell; Faure, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Peralta (Aird 67), Black, Law, Macleod; Clark (Templeton 67), Daly.
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Crawford, McKay, Cribari, Smith.
SCORERS: Law 89, Templeton 90.
REFEREE: Brian Colvin.
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