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Steven Gerrard insists title celebrations are not to blame for cup exit

Steven Gerrard insists title celebrations are not to blame for cup exit
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Rangers lost on penalties against St Johnstone at the quarter-final stage.

Steven Gerrard insists Rangers' wild title party celebrations are not to blame for their Scottish Cup slump.

The Light Blues launched into jubilant celebrations as they claimed the club's first league crown in a decade last month.

But they have struggled to recapture top form since being confirmed champions and have now crashed out of both the Europa League and the Scottish Cup.

Zander Clark was the hero for St Johnstone as they denied Gerrard's team a trip to Hampden.

Not content with a string of vital saves during 90 minutes and extra time, the big keeper came up with an astonishing assist for Chris Kane's 122nd-minute equaliser after being bizarrely left unmarked five yards out.

That sent a breathless Scottish Cup thriller to a penalty shoot-out as James Tavernier's own late strike was cancelled out – with Clark making two more huge spot-kick stops as Saints became the first Scottish team to triumph in Govan this term.

But Gerrard refused to pin the blame for the defeat on a title hangover.

"I think it's the easy way out, a cop-out, for us to use excuses from three or four weeks ago," he said.

Rangers v St Johnstone – Scottish Cup – Quarter Final – Ibrox Stadium
Rangers players react after losing the penalty shoot-out (Andrew Milligan/PA)

"We felt fantastic back then and there was a lot of relief and emotions. Rightly so, we deserved that.

"But I made it clear the Scottish Cup was a priority and we needed to keep hungry. A lot of this game was alright. We had the best chances but you need to take them, or you get stung at the end of games.

"Credit to St Johnstone, they got one moment and then it was on to penalties. We need to take responsibility for this and we need to be better in cup competitions moving forward.

"We have never said we are the finished article. We always have one eye on how we can improve.

"That goes for me as well. I am really disappointed with how this has ended and I will reflect on how I can get this group better.

"We need to be better prepared for cup competitions moving forward and we will be back stronger next season.

Rangers v St Johnstone – Scottish Cup – Quarter Final – Ibrox Stadium
St Johnstone players celebrate with goalkeeper Zander Clark (Andrew Milligan/PA)

"But there will be no shying away from us taking that responsibility and I see loads of areas where we can improve. We will keep striving to do that."

Callum Davidson's men will now join Hibernian, Dundee United and the winners of tonight's showdown between Kilmarnock and St Mirren in the draw for the last four.

The Perth boss – who has already led his team to the Betfred Cup this season – said: "My players were fantastic. I'd have been really proud of them even if we'd lost 1-0.

"We didn't just sit in. We tried to have a go.

"I've got to try and be calm and level-headed. We're in a semi-final and we've given ourselves a chance of getting to another final."

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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