‘I’m taking it!’ – Zander Clark claims Saints goal in shock cup triumph at Ibrox

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Andy Newport, PA
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Zander Clark has told Chris Kane he is claiming the credit for the last-gasp leveller that helped St Johnstone smash Rangers’ unbeaten run at Ibrox.

Saints’ goalkeeper was their hero in both boxes as Callum Davidson’s Betfred Cup winners sealed their return to Hampden.

Not content with making a string of vital saves during 90 minutes and extra time, the 28-year-old came up with a vital assist for Kane’s 122nd-minute tap-in after being bizarrely left unmarked five yards out to send a breath-taking Scottish Cup thriller to a penalty shoot-out as James Tavernier’s own late strike was cancelled out.

And he went on to make two more huge stops as Saints became the first Scottish team to triumph in Govan this term.

Defeat sees Steven Gerrard’s cup curse strike again but Saints are now dreaming of a double.

And Clark has told Kane to forget about marking down the goal as his own.

“It was a great ball in and I glanced it, and you know what? I’m taking it! I don’t care if Kano tapped it in,” he told Premier Sports.

“Listen, there have been so many times this season when I have thought to myself, ‘I’m going to go up’ and I’ve looked at the bench and they’ve said no!

“I just thought do you know what? It’s all or nothing. Just get myself up there.

“Typical striker, I think Kano toepoked it over the line, so I’m devastated!

“I think it was what we deserved. Penalties are a lottery, it’s a case of who can keep their cool and score the most.

“It’s up to the keepers to try and help the boys out and save a couple. Thankfully I have done that.

“It’s massive for everyone involved at the club. Hopefully by winning the first cup we have given ourselves a chance to try and get to another final which would be massive for everyone connected with the club.”

Saints now join Hibernian, Dundee United and the winner of Monday night’s tie with Kilmarnock and St Mirren in the draw for the last four.

But for Gers, it is another missed opportunity to end the club’s wait for a cup-winning party.

Gerrard’s men may have lifted title number 55 this year but the former Liverpool skipper has now failed to lead his side to domestic knock-out success in six attempts.

Victory looked within their reach as Tavernier – just back after a two-month injury lay-off – nodded home with four minutes left of extra time.

But Gerrard could not believe his team failed to pick up Clark as St Johnstone grabbed a stunning lifeline.

The Ibrox boss – who saw his team suffer a shock loss to St Mirren in the last eight of the Betfred Cup – said: “We again have been stung by not being able to see the game out. This was a tough game tonight. Credit to St Johnstone, so congratulations to them.

“One thing that is crucial is the final moments when you get yourselves in front.

“We got the breakthrough with a fantastic goal from James.

“A goalkeeper going up is very rare and when it does happen with someone six foot eight, common sense normally means that one of the big guys goes and challenges Zander.

“Players haven’t smelled that but that’s on us as a staff as well.

“The cup became a priority as soon as the league was done and we were out of Europe. The reality is we need to be better in cup competitions.

“We’re getting to this stage too many times and getting stung – for example, St Mirren in the League Cup – in the final moments of games.

“That’s a challenge for me to improve on cup competitions and get a group that’s capable of being better and giving our fans what they deserve, which is more trophies – not just one out of nine. That’s not good enough.”