Kemar Roofe’s first goal of the season sent Rangers into the Viaplay Cup final to face Celtic as Aberdeen were defeated in an extra-time thriller.
The striker converted fellow substitute Scott Wright’s low cross in the 94th minute to put Rangers ahead for the first time at Hampden.
Aberdeen had led thanks to Bojan Miovski’s cut shot past Allan McGregor, but Ryan Jack’s deflected shot leveled things up when Dons captain Anthony Stewart was sent off late in stoppage time.
Michael Beale’s side quickly forced the winner and they will return to Hampden for the final on February 26.
However, a shoulder injury ended Roofe’s participation in what has already been an injury-ravaged season for the striker.
The ground at Hampden bore the scars of Saturday’s semi-final contested by horrendous weather, but the milder conditions on Sunday made for a thrilling tie.
Fashion Sakala’s shoulder turned a James Tavernier cross on an Aberdeen post early on.
VAR also had an early impact, when Miovski scored for the first time. The Dons striker raced past Leighton Clarkson’s pass and finished superbly from a tight angle down the right, but his celebrations were cut short with an offside eventually given.
Aberdeen had their tails up and Stewart attacked a corner to then manage the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Sakala, Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent fired shots, only the latter pulling a save from Kelle Roos.
Moments later, Morelos claimed the ball had crossed the line from his header despite Roos stopping on the line, but replays made it clear the ball was still in play.
And, against the run of play, Aberdeen took the lead.
Miovski was offside from Clarkson’s long ball but Kennedy crossed to the blind side of Borna Barisic to cross for Miovski to finish. It was his first goal in six games.
Rangers were rocked and showed little composure until Kent, Morelos and Jack combined just after the hour mark.
Kent’s flick found Jack, his found Morelos, the striker went back to Jack and the shot from midfield came out of Scales. It was the best move of the game for Rangers, helped by a bit of luck.
Clarkson got the Dons’ support going again with a fierce strike on the post, although there was an offside in the build-up.
There was another big talking point before the overtime. Sakala tried to escape Stewart down the left only to be mowed down by the defender. It was pure red.
Tavernier’s shot deflected off the Aberdeen bar and went out as Rangers continued to press in extra time and Roofe, in place of Morelos, then collected his reward.
Wright made his way to the left line and cut the ball for his striker to go home. It was Roofe’s first goal since April.
Confusion reigned as Walsh consulted with his VAR colleagues amid apparent miscommunication, but play continued with Jonny Hayes’ strike forcing a fine save from McGregor.
Sakala thought he had scored when an effort was deflected by Scales, but fell past the post before Roofe slammed his way in after landing awkwardly after Scales’ challenge.
Aberdeen had to wave caution and almost equalize when Scales’ shot from a free-kick was blocked by McGregor.
Player of the Match – Ryan Kent
Rangers’ Hampden heroes deliver good cup tie again – analysis
For their third straight appearance at Hampden, Rangers found themselves in an overtime contest.
It was Jack and Wright who scored the goals in last season’s Scottish Cup final win over Hearts and the pair again played a big role.
Jack took responsibility, not just with his goal, but often when a teammate needed the ball loose, while Wright gave his team a crucial injection of pace early in extra time.
Beale continues his impressive record as Rangers manager with six wins and one draw in seven. A stern test awaits at Celtic next month.
Aberdeen, like Kilmarnock against Celtic on Saturday, brought a lot to the semi-finals. Kennedy and Graeme Shinnie in particular led their charge, but there’s no denying Stewart’s firing hurt their chances.
The defender had made headlines earlier in the week for suggesting injured Rangers striker Antonio Colak was ‘better’ than Morelos.
Manager Jim Goodwin had called the remarks “regrettable” but it was not Morelos or Colak who proved to be Stewart’s undoing, but Sakala.
Goodwin inherited an Aberdeen side that left both cup competitions early last season. He has at least brought Aberdeen back to Hampden and another potential cup run awaits him in the Scottish Cup.
what they said
Rangers manager Michael Beale: “It feels good. Shame on Aberdeen, I thought they were great. I thought two teams played each other and we came out on top. I had some bad days here (in Hampden) where we played well and I thought we were being reasonable and that we were done.
“I love Scott Wright when he’s direct. I don’t like it when he picks and chooses his moments. I talked to him about it throughout the week and he generously rewarded the team and the fans this afternoon It was a fantastic run (for Kemar Roofe’s goal) It was so good to see Kemar score on the big stage, he’s a great player for us I hope (his injury) isn’t nothing too serious but it looked painful. It’s not a dislocation that we don’t believe.”
Jim Goodwin, manager of Aberdeen: “We are extremely disappointed to have been knocked out of the cup at this late stage. Rangers started well, put us on the back foot. Once the game died down we grew and it was very There is a sense of pride on my part in the effort put in by the players.
“We tried to clutter the midfield and the effort and commitment the players showed for 120 minutes was quite incredible. We have no arguments over the red card. As soon as the tackle was made , I thought he was gone. Was it a bad decision by Anthony, he could have stayed up.”
Both teams return to Scottish Premiership duties on Wednesday with Aberdeen at Heart of Midlothian (19:45 GMT) and visiting Rangers in Kilmarnock (20:00)