Scottish Cup: Jackie McNamara hails young Dundee United stars

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara praised his young team after they beat Rangers 3-1 in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Ibrox.

United withstood heavy pressure to lead 2-0 with goals from Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven.

Steven Smith's free-kick pulled a goal back before half time, but Nadir Ciftci sealed a final place late on.

"They're young, but they're experienced," said McNamara. "It's a big ask to handle the occasion."

Dundee United now look forward to their second Scottish Cup final in four years after falling at the semi-final stage last season. They will face either Aberdeen or St Johnstone at Celtic Park on 17 May, having scored 15 goals in this year's competition.

Interview - Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara

"Fantastic," McNamara told BBC Radio Scotland. "[It's a] great feeling, especially coming here and beating Rangers at Ibrox. It's a great place to come and play a great occasion and delighted that we managed to do it.

"I got what I expected. I knew the set-pieces were very dangerous and the long balls off of [Jon] Daly, that was what caused us problems. I wasn't really concerned about open play."

While his side were not at their best, there were still moments of quality that pleased McNamara. Ryan Gauld's contribution to Mackay-Steven's goal was one.

"I know we can play a lot better than we did," he said. "But I've always got confidence in my players.

"When we play properly we can always cause teams problems. It just takes one bit of magic from one of them like Gauldy at the second goal. He takes it around to the bye-line, [and has] the composure to pick out the pass.

Interviews - Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong

"There's wee things that I know they're capable of - I see it every day - and I know they're capable of playing better especially in the second half.

"There were a few opportunities where I thought we could have picked the last pass out better, but I'm just delighted that we're there."

Armstrong raced through to give United the lead after 23 minutes when he latched onto Gavin Gunning's header, and the midfielder admitted the Taysiders had to fight for their place in the final.

He said: "I don't think we underestimated them. A lot of people thought it was going to be a one-sided affair but it certainly wasn't that.

"They did cause us a lot of problems but we managed to deal with them well.

"To get to a final is something we've all dreamed of at the start of the season and we're just really happy we've managed to do that today."