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Match Report and Ratings


Bazza
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Hearts 1 vs. 2 Rangers

Champions League ties and tough SPL away fixtures go hand in hand for The Rangers with Hearts the game after the tough Wednesday night shift.

Walter made just two changes from the team that had had to battle so hard against the Turks and it was injuries, as well as freshening up, that saw McCulloch and Broadfoot out of the side and the inclusion of Weiss and Jelavic.

Rangers started the game brightly for a change and looked up for getting this game done and dusted as early as possible and allowing the hard worked core of the team to get a well earned rest. This is Rangers however and things like this just never go quite to plan. The first real oppertunity fell to Davis as Jelavic fired in a shot that was spilled by the Hearts Keeper and fell to his feet. His shot was then scrambled away off the line.

As is the norm these days though, Rangers were soon to find themselvs behind in an SPL game. It was calamatous to say the least as Kyle flicked the ball on for Skacel who first ran through an invisible Whittaker challenge, skipped out of the half hearted Bougherra "tackle", dummied McGregor when "he fresh air shot" and managed to run on and tap the ball into the back of the net. A goal against the run of the game and one that once more would make Rangers have to fight to the death.

Rangers still kept up most of the pressure of the half and Probably should have done better when Miller burst through on goal but was forced wide by Hearts keeper and he couldn't create a path to get the ball back to Naismith and Jelavic who were awaiting a tap in. We then, very nearly, had the goal of the season sewn up as Jelavic unleashed an amazingly versatile volley at goal that was superbly saved by the inform Hearts Number 1.

Rangers would have been given a talking to at half time but all the tactical desicions and advice were nearly thrown out the window in under a minute as a cross fell to Kyle at the back post and he managed, somehow, to fire the ball well wide. Rangers were hungry however and it showed with their constant attacks on the Hearts goal. Nothing was quite coming off though and the frustration was starting to show. Naismith was losing the rag at times as Hearts players were deliberatley hacking down any Rangers man going forward while rolling around on the floor themselves trying to waste time.

Papac came closest to levelling in the 65 minute as he sent a subline edge of the box volley back towrads goal only to watch it smash off the post and out. The game was about to turn on its head and it was the unlikely hero of Kyle Lafferty that made it happen. His introduction, for the injured Jelavic, changed the freekick taking duties and he steped up to the plate, right on the 80th minute and drilled a low shot round theHearts wall and into the bottom corner of the net. A superb goal and one that was hugely needed if we were to take anything from this game.

Hearts weren't quite done though and had a chance to take the lead right back as Kyle again found himself free but this time his header was way off target. It would only have served as an injustice as Rangers continually peppered the Hearts goal with Davis crashing another volley off the post to pile on the frustration but the game looked as though it was done as the 4th official held up the board for 5 minutes (play acting) injury time and this was to be the nail in the coffin for them.

Lafferty again involved himself well in the play as he collected the ball and fed Naismith. He took the ball in his stride and drove into the box. His subline wee faint lost his marker and he managed, somehow, to get the ball out of his feet and drive the ball past Hearts Keeper and rattled the ball in off the post to send the away fans, the rest of his team and the management into delerium.

A game that we had controlled from start to finish with good football had finally given up the scoreline it deserved and stamped a big "That's why we're champions" all over the SPL.

RM’s verdict:

McGregor: - 6 Maybe could have done more at the goal but it was really the mess in front of him that let Skacel in on goal.

Whittaker: - 6 Inconsistent game again as he contributed to the goal and had a varying degree of success in attack. Had one shot that nearly snuck into the bottom corner.

Bougherra: - 7 Was desperate to attone for his part in the calamity as he drove foreard at every oppertunity even finding himself in the left center forward role at one stage.

Weir: - 7 Always unflustered and proffesional and is the perfect foil for opposite Bougherra. Managed to deflect a goalbound Papac shot wide but knew nothing about it.

Papac: - 7 Solid at the back and got forward well to help Weiss on the left side. Very unlucky to see his superb volley smash the post.

Naismith: - 9 Back out to the right today but showed his versatility by backing up his midweek performance with another blinder today. His goal ws the stuff of legends and no more than he deserved.

Davis: - 7 Quietish in the first half but really came into the game in the second as he drove forward at every oppertunity and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Edu: - 7 Beginning to divide the support as much as Boyd but had a good game in my eyes. A powerful engine and reads the game well, his passing sometimes lets him down but an invaluable contribution today.

Weiss: - 6 Is going to be a frustrating player, especially on days like this when nothing really comes off for him. Had a couple of shots at goal and a few mazy runs but the final ball just evaded him today.

Jelavic: - 8 Had an excellent game leading the line as he held the ball up, ran the channels and was so unlucky not to get on the score sheet with a sublime volley. Went off with an injury that we hopes not too serious.

Miller: - 6 Showed glimpses of fatigue but who can blame him after his midweek shift. He's hard to leave out of the team though when he's been banging them in so consistently this season.

Subs:-

Lafferty: - 8 If ever there was a game winning sbstitution then this was it. Started the comeback with a fine freekick.

Rangers: - 01 McGregor, 03 Weir, 05 Papac, 16 Whittaker, 24 Bougherra, 07 Edu, 08 Davis, 20 Weiss, 09 Miller, 14 Naismith, 18 Jelavic (Lafferty 77).

· Substitutes: - 25 Alexander, 12 Foster, 22 Webster, 39 Wylde, 11 Lafferty, 29 Little, 41 Hutton.

Goals: - Lafferty 80, Naismith 93

Booked: - Naismith

Hearts: - 25 Kello, 05 Barr, 13 Obua (Thomson 67), 21 Ismael Bouzid, 24 Thomson, 04 Jonsson, 08 Black (Palazuelos 81), 19 Skacel (Stevenson 77), 31 Mrowiec, 09 Kyle, 14 Elliot.

Substitutes: - 01 Balogh, 20 Thomson, 06 Palazuelos, 07 Suso Santana, 12 Templeton, 16 Stevenson, 23 Glen.

Goals: - Skacel 12

Booked:- Barr, Thomson, Jonsson, Black, Skacel

Att:- 15,637

Ref:- Thompson

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