The Scottish Cup has once again reached its most intense phase, with the semi-final stage getting underway this weekend, unearthing this season's finalists following two tetchy affairs.
Rangers clashed with Dundee United on Saturday hoping to upset the odds against their Premiership counterparts, but it was a futile effort as Jackie McNamara's youngsters won 3-1 to book a place in the final.
That was before Sunday's comeback victory from St. Johnstone, who were a goal down at halftime against Aberdeen but managed to emerge as 2-1 victors.
Read on for a breakdown of this term's penultimate Scottish Cup fixtures, as well as some detail regarding those stars responsible for their team's success.
St. Johnstone 2-1 Aberdeen
Sunday, April 13
Sunday saw St. Johnstone came back from a goal down to set up a Scottish Cup final opposite Saturday's qualifiers Dundee United, with a Stevie May brace earning the Saints the first Scottish Cup final of their 130-year history.
Derek McInnes' hopefuls took an early lead after Peter Pawlett teed up Niall McGinn inside 15 minutes, the latter obliging by striking the ball low into the bottom-right of Alan Mannus' goal.
Aberdeen would keep some measure of control for the next 30 minutes, too, with BBC Radio 5Live showing that the Dons maintained a majority of the possession, albeit allowing their opposition more shots on target:
It wasn't to last, though, as whatever Tommy Wright said to his squad at halftime had the desired effect, with St. Johnstone coming out for the second period with renewed vigour.
It was only 15 minutes after the break that May levelled the scores from the middle of the box, capitalising upon a James Dunne ball to net in the very same corner of the goal that McGinn had scored in earlier.
The real raptures came in the 84th minute, however, with the official St. Johnstone Twitter account giving some sense of just how much it meant for the club to watch May snatch his second just five minutes from time:
The 21-year-old ensured that the Saints' dismal record of just one win in their last 10 meetings with Aberdeen gets a major boost, pitching in with two clinical goals in what was a Man of the Match-worthy display.
As if written in the stars, May wore the No. 17 for Sunday's semi-final, with the final of this year's competition set to take place on Saturday, May 17.
For Aberdeen, it's a dismal way for things to end, similar to the heartbreak of their 2-1 defeat against Hibernian two seasons ago, also decided by a winner in the last 10 minutes.
Rangers 1-3 Dundee United
Saturday, April 12
Although the scoreline may not suggest it, Dundee United managed to edge their way past Rangers in what proved to be an incredibly passionate affair, the exact brand of football fans have come to expect of the Scottish Cup.
Ed Malyon of The Mirror didn't beat about the bush in describing the action:
Stuart Armstrong gave the travelling Arabs cause to rejoice in the 23rd minute, getting into the centre of the box at the right moment to crack in an opener off the frame of the goal. And Rangers saw their woes doubled when Gary Mackay-Steven added a second for Jackie McNamara's young contenders.
Ryan Gauld, the 18-year-old earning rave reviews in what's been a terrific breakout season, was the architect of that second score, finding team-mate Mackay-Steven in the box to send Rangers further into the red.
That dirge wouldn't last too long, though, as just six minutes after slipping to a 2-0 deficit, Steven Smith made full use of a Rangers free-kick to give the Glaswegians a life line right before half-time.
BBC Radio 5Live show just how tense things stood at the halfway mark:
The second period wasn't quite as full of goals, but young Gauld continued to cause trouble around the Rangers box, not letting a mere disadvantage of years lived affect his performance in the Ibrox cauldron.
It was right up until the dying embers of the fixture that Rangers held out some hope of clinching a result, but Nadir Ciftci ended those aspirations by thudding a shot past Steve Simonsen into the bottom left corner on 83 minutes.
United would ride out the remaining minutes to reach the 2013-14 Scottish Cup final, ultimately making the most use of their key scoring opportunities to make the difference.
Along with Gauld, 17-year-old John Souttar and 20-year-old Andrew Robertson were stellar in defence for McNamara's side, holding firm in the face of more experienced opponents to give their team a concrete foundation at the back.
Now eyes turn toward Sunday's meeting between St. Johnstone and Aberdeen, with the victor meeting Dundee United in this term's finale.
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