THE pain of their defeat in Seville on Wednesday night will linger for some time to come for Rangers.

Losing a European final on penalties is not the sort of disappointment you recover from in a matter of days.

But this sweet Scottish Cup final victory ensured the Ibrox club finished a tumultuous season on a high and went a long way towards lifting their spirits.

When the encounter with Hearts at Hampden today went to extra-time followers of the Glasgow giants could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.

It was the last thing they needed following their exertions in the searing heat in Andalusia in midweek.

Yet, James Tavernier and his team mates showed great reserves of energy and no shortage of mental strength to secure the trophy. Goals from substitutes Ryan Jack and Scott Wright in the first period sewed up a hard-fought and richly-deserved triumph.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team had been denied a stonewall penalty in injury-time at the end of the second-half when Nathan Atkinson tugged the shirt of Joe Aribo in his area just as the playmaker was poised to shoot. Justice was probably done. 

Failing to retain the cinch Premiership title this season and being beaten in the Europa League final by Eintracht Frankfurt this week had both been devastating experiences for Rangers.

However, winning the national cup competition for the first time since way back in 2009 in their 150th anniversary year was good reason to celebrate.

It was the first major success Ra ngers have recorded under Van Bronckhorst. Steven Davis, Connor Goldson and Allan McGregor may all depart in the coming weeks. But they have much to look forward to going forward with the Dutchman at the helm.    

Hearts competed bravely and contained their top flight rivals for 90 minutes. But they could have no complaints at the final outcome. They offered very little going forward and failed to seriously test Jon McLaughlin and then Allan McGregor.

Van Bronckhorst, as expected, freshened up his starting line-up. Out went the injured Borna Barisic along with Jack, Glen Kamara and Wright and Leon Balogun, and Davis, Scott Arfield and Amad Diallo came in. Elsewhere, Mclaughlin was preferred to McGregor in goals as he had been in the four previous rounds.  

Robbie Neilson named Craig Halkett and John Souttar in his line-up. The pair had come on in the second-half of the league defeat top Rangers at Tynecastle seven days earlier. But it was the first time Halkett had started since he was stretchered off in the semi-final win over Hibernian last month. Souttar, meanwhile,  had not been involved from kick-off since early March.  

Peter Haring was booked by referee Willie Collum after just three minutes for a bad challenge on Calvin Bassey on the edge of the Rangers area. But Hearts nearly drew first blood seven minutes later following a slick interchange between Atkinson, Liam Boyce and Ellis Simms. The latter was unable to get enough power behind his shot and struck the outside of the left post.   

Diallo made an early impact after arriving on loan from Manchester United in January. The €25m Ivorian winger scored early on in his debut against Ross County in Dingwall to give Rangers fans hope he could provide them with a vital cutting edge up front and help them reclaim the Premiership. The 19-year-old, though, has disappointed since.

But he showed his undoubted ability in the 15th minute when he brought down a long Goldson ball upfield with the outside of his left foot and cut inside Alex Cochrane. His pass was then cleared to safety. But his moment of magic showed exactly why his manager had given him the nod.

Hearts dealt with the sustained pressure that Rangers applied to them thereafter well. Arfield got an attempt on target in the 26th minute after Diallo and Davis had combined well to tee him up. But Craig Gordon had little difficulty dealing with it.

The same could not be said for the wild passback Halkett played to his keeper shortly after that. The centre half very nearly lobbed his keeper and put the ball into his own net. The Scotland internationalist did well to nod it down and spare his team mate’s blushes.  

Aribo and Diallo both got their heads on the end of crosses from Bassey, who took over from Barisic at left back and acquitted himself superbly, towards the end of the first-half. But both men missed the target.

Aaron Ramsey had failed to convert his penalty kick in the Europa League final in the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night.

As the Juventus loanee warmed up on the touchline in the first-half today he turned to the Rangers supporters and held his hands up by way of an apology. It was a classy gesture and the warm applause he received showed there was no ill-feeling towards him.

Both sets of players looked like they were jaded at the end of a long hard season at times. There was no shortage of endeavour, but much of the play was scrappy. Passes were misplaced, wrong decisions made and attacks broke down as quickly as they had started.

But the Diallo diagonal ball that put Kent in behind Atkinson in the 58th minute was sublime. If Gordon hadn’t been so quick to get off his line and close the winger down then Hearts would have fallen behind.

Diallo was yellow carded by Collum for a foul on Boyce and took great exception to having his name taken. Van Bronckhorst was correct to replace the teenager with Wright soon after.

Bassey has become a hero to the Rangers fans this term due to his mature performances for them at the back. The 6ft 1in defender showed he is every bit as good going forward yesterday. Kent and Barrie McKay would have been proud of the trickery he exhibited on the ball out wide. He gave Atkinson a torrid afternoon.

He weaved through the Hearts defence and tested Gordon with 15 minutes remaining. The Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year did brilliantly to get down quickly and palm it away. Neilson quickly removed Boyce and put on Andy Halliday.

Former Rangers player Halliday is a favourite with followers of the Ibrox club – they cheered and applauded his name when it was read out before kick-off even though he was in the opposition squad – but his blatant foul on Bassey near the corner flag was met with howls of derision. There was greater fury, though, when the match official allowed play to continue.

Balogun headed a Tavernier corner just over before Souttar, who will move to Govan in the summer, did well to slide in, block a John Lundstram shot and prevent his future employers from taking the lead.

Josh Ginnelly took over from the disappointing McKay and won a corner with two minutes remaining. But Stephen Kingsley floated it straight to Mclaughlin. Gordon then produced the save of the match when he diverted an Aribo shot past his post with his outstretched left foot.

But the Rangers forward had been pulled from behind by Atkinson before the shot. It was a clear penalty. Van Bronckhorst was incensed in his technical area and appealed in vain to fourth official Nick Walsh.

Aribo missed an absolute sitter in the second minute of extra-time after Bassey had supplied him a few yards in front of goal.

But there was nothing wrong with Jack’s finish a minute later. The midfielder brought down a Halkett header at a Tavernier corner and then rifled beyond Gordon and into the net off the underside of the crossbar.  

Just three minutes later Wright showed exactly the same sort of composure when Kent played him through. He slotted into the bottom left corner of the net to send one half of the stadium into full party mode.

Van Bronckhorst put on McGregor for McLaughlin at the very end so the veteran keeper could be part of the festivities. The 40-year-old may not be involved in any more of these occasions. But there promise to be a few more for Rangers going forward.