Nasser El Khayati rose from the bench to score a dramatic stoppage-time winner for the hosts – his first goal since Hasselbaink brought him to west London from previous club Burton in the January transfer window.
But, while pleased for the former Brewer, Hasselbaink believed Smithies deserved the loudest plaudits for several fine saves, most notably when he denied Igor Vetokele from point-blank range five minutes from the end of normal time.
“El Khayati has been gagging for a while to get minutes to be able to play and all that kind of stuff, so in a way I’m happy for him, but I must say Alex Smithies has won us the game today,” said Hasselbaink
“I’m happy for the team that we stuck at it, kept on going and finished it off, even though we needed the help of our goalkeeper who did ever so well.”
Hasselbaink’s frustration was the heroics of both his keeper and El Khayati would have been unnecessary had Matt Phillips not spurned an easier chance to make it 2-0 than the one he had taken in first-half stoppage-time to give Rangers a deserved half-time lead.
Thereafter he admitted they rode our luck.
“We put ourselves into that situation (of needing El Khayati’s last-gasp goal) because we had a chance to score and make it 2-0 and you have to take that,” he added “If you take that you go on and win three or four.”
“It would have killed off their spirit because it would have left them with a bigger hill to climb.
“Instead when the goalkeeper saves that it gives them the ammunition to keep going.
“So you can look at the question were we lucky in two ways. We should have scored for 2-0 and if you look at it that way we are not fortunate, but if you look at the chances they have had after the 1-1 then you say yes we were a little bit lucky.”