Falkirk were picked apart by Rangers at Ibrox to exit the William Hill Scottish Cup last eight.
Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick and Aaron Muirhead notched at both ends as the 18 place gulf in the league set-up between the sides was highlighted late on Sunday afternoon.
It was a rip-roaring start at Ibrox with three goals in little over 21 minutes, befitting of Falkirk’s ambitious and attacking line-up.
But for the first 15 Falkirk were encamped in their own half and Rangers manipulated them around until finally opening the scoring through Jason Cummings.
The home side attacked the Bairns down the right-side, with Cummings and Alfredo Morelos getting the better of Reghan Tumilty.
But while at times there were lunges and blocks keeping the second-placed Premiership hosts at bay, eventually their pressure told before the Bairns could really let their attacking line-up flow. Both Cummings and Josh Windass beat the Bairns offside trap and the former Hibs man slipped the ball in from an acute angle.
Conceding the opener seemed to settle Falkirk, and Rangers and the Bairns took more possession with Craig Sibbald seizing the impetus after the blow of the opener. He strode forward and in the Bairns attack rounded it off with a deflected strike from the edge of the box that captain Aaron Muirhead flicked on to beat Jak Alnwick.
The packed corner of the Sandy Jardine and Broomloan Road stands roared and Muirhead, who had been booked for an off-the-ball incident in the lead-up to the Bairns goal raced back to celebrate with more than 1340 away supporters.
Their joy lasted little though as Cummings took the wind from Falkirk’s sails by trickling the ball beyond Thomson for a second for Graeme Murty’s side in an immediate response.
This time there was not as positive a response from the Bairns, but still Sibbald was central to the hopes of Paul Hartley’s side, especially when linking up with Louis Longridge.
The duo linked up just after the half-hour mark and the latter fired just wide, and it proved costly as Rangers went in 3-1 up at the interval with Cummings completing his hat-trick from a close-range tap in. Falkirk were again caught out, this time by a quick free-kick and Candeias’s cross was missed by Morelos but the former Hibs striker, who so often has hurt Falkirk in the past, was credited with the goal though TV pictures showed it was the Bairns goalscorer Muirhead who had the final touch.
The midfielder thundered into Greg Docherty on 64 minutes in a great tackle that sparked a Bairns rush up the park, but Alex Jakubiak blasted wide.
With 20 minutes to go Paul Hartley opened the game up with an attacking change, switching Alex Harris on for Peter Grant and Falkirk switched from 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2.
A gamble worth taking at 3-1 down perhaps, but Rangers exploited the extra space at the back and extended their lead when Candeias put Morelos clean through on Thomson. The re-instated goalkeeper did brilliantly to deny the Colombian but he couldn’t hold the strike and Cummings rushed in to fire in the fourth.
Some had credited him with a hat-trick in the first half but there was no denying the man who has hurt the Bairns so often in the past, did so again with the fourth and final strike with 15 minutes left.
Thomson again denied Morelos with three minutes to go, pawing the ball away from the Colombian as Rangers’ top scorer ntried to round the Bairns’ number one.