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WALTER SMITH beamed with joy yesterday as his last-ever Hampden final ended in Co-op Cup triumph.

The 63-year-old kicked every ball as his men handed him the 20th trophy of his Rangers career.

Gaffer Smith RAGED as ref Craig Thomson turned down two stonewall penalties for the Ibrox side.

He SWEATED as injuries left them clinging on with a makeshift defence.

Then he ROARED with delight as Nikica Jelavic's extra-time winner decided a titanic tussle.

Smith - who leaves Ibrox at the end of the season - smiled: "I've said many times that we have a great group of players and they proved it out there. It was a terrific game and although we deserved to win, it could have gone either way.

"From my own point of view it's a pleasing one because the last time I was leaving Rangers in 1998 we ended up not winning anything, so it's nice that we've managed it this time.

"But I'm more pleased for the players. They were all but written off beforehand and more than rose to the challenge."

Steven Davis opened the scoring for Rangers before Joe Ledley equalised and Jelavic finally settled it.

But the real controversy came as Thomson said no to huge penalty claims when first Jelavic was brought down by Thomas Rogne and then Mark Wilson handled.

At the first incident, Thomson pointed to the spot before changing his mind and booking Jelavic for diving.

SunSport can reveal Thomson did NOT take the advice of his linesman on the incident, but realised himself he had called it wrong.

Smith claimed: "It is dangerous for a referee to do that. I'm surprised he booked Jelavic, because he obviously thought there was a foul in the first place - and especially as there had been a similar incident at the other end earlier involving Wilson. Had it been in the other penalty box - well, I don't know.

"What I've said since Celtic started going on about refereeing decisions is that if your team's good enough, you'll win.

"Jelavic has had an awkward season but this was a great performance - though Davis was by far the man of the match.

"This result won't do us any harm in the league race, but we're at the stage of the season where we can be badly affected by injuries and suspensions.

"We came here without Kyle Bartley, then lost Madjid Bougherra and ended up with Mo Edu at right-back and Steven Whittaker at centre-half.

"Psychologically it's a good win for us."

Smith also called for BOTH teams to be patted on the back in the wake of demands by police chiefs for better behaviour on and off the pitch.

He added: "I hope both teams get praise after the criticism the last time."

Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/sport/spl/3480208/Walt-a-party.html#ixzz1HBg8RnUa

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