Rangers 2-2 Hearts - Bears throw away two points

Last updated : 25 March 2009 By Southside Johnny
Rangers 2 (Lafferty 9, Ferguson 45) Hearts 2 (Karipidis 64, Palazuelos 66)

Attendance 50,310

There were three changes from the Hampden debacle with Christian Dailly, DaMarcus Beasley and Kris Boyd replacing the suspended David Weir, the injured Kirk Broadfoot, and Kenny Miller.

It was all Rangers from the opening seconds with Steven Whittaker testing Jamie McDonald with a thirty-yard drive that the goalkeeper held in eight minutes.

Sixty seconds later the Light Blues had a deserved lead when Kyle Lafferty buried an eighteen-yard shot past McDonald from a Beasley pass.

The home side were pouring forward at every opportunity with Lafferty outstanding - in twelve minutes his cross, flicked on by Steve Davis was prodded just wide by Steven Whittaker.

Two minutes later Beasley's chip following another Lafferty run was inches wide.

Rangers suffered an injury blow in 35 minutes when Lafferty limped off to be replaced by Nacho Novo.

Rangers ended the half as they had begun it - on top, with a Davis shot from twenty yards following a Barry Ferguson break being deflected wide.

The Ibrox Captain made no mistake from the resultant Pedro Mendes corner however - rifling home a fifteen-yard shot to give Rangers a more-than-deserved two-goal lead at the interval.

The points should have been wrapped up in 62 minutes when in a lightning break Mendes found Davis who in turn released Novo through on goal - the little Spaniard somehow hitting the post with the goal at his mercy.

Sixty seconds later Hearts threatened for the first time when substitute Calum Elliot tested Allan McGregor with a twenty-yard shot that the goalkeeper touched over.

The goal was merely delayed however - Christos Karipidis' 64th minute header being adjudged to have crossed the line from Bruno Aguiar's corner.

Unbelievably the scores were level two minutes later when David Obua's cross was nodded down by Elliot for Ruben Palazuelos to volley home.

Rangers had now lost control of a game in which they had been by far the superior side - and when in 73 minutes Steven Naismith was introduced there was general disbelief that the player substituted was Beasley, who had been impressive, instead of the ineffective Boyd who had not kicked a ball all afternoon.

Sixty seconds later McDonald smothered a Mendes volley from 25 yards - but Rangers had ran out of ideas and would soon run out of time. Indeed Hearts might even have stolen all three points in injury time when Elliot broke free on the left only to see his shot clawed out by McGregor.

The final whistle brought forth a crescendo of booing and jeering from the 'Gers fans who were sickened at the loss of another two points and that Walter Smith had somehow formed the opinion that Kris Boyd was worthy of another full ninety minutes.

Afterwards the Ibrox boss lamented:

"We are extremely disappointed to drop two points in a game that we effectively had won. Anyone watching the first hour of the match would not have thought it a possibility. It feels like a defeat - we have undone in a few minutes one of our better home performances of the season. There is no doubt we are making things extremely difficult for ourselves. We have dropped five points in the last two games when we were the better team throughout both games."

RANGERS McGregor; Whittaker, Dailly, McCulloch, Papac; Davis, Ferguson, Mendes, Beasley (Naismith 73); Lafferty (Novo 35), Boyd
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Edu, Miller, Fleck, Wilson

HEARTS McDonald; Neilson, Karipidis, Zaliukas, Wallace; Obua, Palazuelos, Stewart, Aguiar, Cesnauskis (Elliot 45); Nade (Tullberg 71)
UNUSED SUBS Ridgers, Jonsson, Mikoliunas, Mrowiec, Templeton

REFEREE Craig Thomson