Stalemate At Ibrox - Rangers 0-0 Hearts

Last updated : 27 January 2007 By Southside Johnny

Attendance 50,321

It was ninety minutes of frustration for the capacity
crowd with Rangers unable to overcome an offside trap
and packed defence reminiscent of the Hearts team of
the early-sixties.

Manager Walter Smith made two changes from Dunfermline
with new signing Ugo Ehiogu from Middlesbrough and
Libor Sionko replacing Karl Svensson and Chris Burke.

There was no Paul Hartley in the Hearts line-up amidst
rumours circulating that he is about to sign for
Rangers at the beginning of the week.

Rangers were on the attack from the opening minutes on
a pitch that reflected the dreadful weather of this
winter and the number of games played on it, with a
Charlie Adam corner finding David Weir at the far post
- his hook shot being clawed away by goalkeeper
Steve Banks in four minutes..

Five minutes later a Kris Boyd - Barry Ferguson
move ended with a backheel into the path of Sionko who
sliced the ball over the bar.

In a rare attack Bruno Aguair saw his 28-yard
free-kick held by Allan McGregor in eleven minutes.

The opening goal should have arrived in 25 minutes
when Sionko stabbed the ball wide after Boyd had
nodded an Adam cross into his path.

If that miss was bad then worse was to follow sixty
seconds later when Ferguson's shot was parried
by Banks - the rebound falling perfectly for
Boyd who somehow shot over the bar.

The remainder of the half was a tale of constant
Rangers pressure without being able to achieve the
breakthrough and the half ended goalless.

The second-half was very much of a muchness with
constant Rangers pressure failing to unlock a packed
Hearts defence that relied almost totally on the
offside trap.

Midway through the second-half Filip Sebo replaced
Boyd, then four minuters later Burke came on for

The deadlock appeared to be broken at last in 77
minutes when Ferguson bundled home a Burke cross only
for the goal to be chalked off for a marginal offside
decision on the part of linesman Keith Sorbie.

The ruling was one of many on the part of the official
that frustrated the home side.

Sixty seconds later Nacho Novo's volley from a
Sebo cross was inches wide of the target.

Constant Light Blue pressure in the closing stages
failed to achieve the breakthrough against a Hearts
side who had scarcely crossed the halfway line
throughout the second-half, and at the final whistle
the Tynecastle men celebrated as if they had secured
the title itself.

However football would surely close down if everybody
played as negatively as Hearts did today.

Afterwards a frustrated Walter Smith reflected:

“I was disappointed we didn't get the win.
We did enough to score. We were the victim of a
dubious offside decision.”

Meanwhile Hearts Coach Valdas Ivanauskas reflected:

“We are fighting for second place. I pick my
team for the result. I am happy with the result. Craig
Gordon and Paul Hartley were key players two weeks
ago, but it's all about politics. I wanted to
pick them.”

RANGERS McGregor; Hutton, Weir, Ehiogu, Murray; Sionko
(Burke 71), Ferguson, Hemdani, Adam; Novo, Boyd (Sebo
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Svensson, Rae, Lennon, Lowing

HEARTS Banks; Karipidis, Zaliukas (Tall 67), Berra,
Fyssas; Mikoliunas (Wallace 59), Aguair, McCann,
Driver; Bednar, Velicka (Elliot 80)
UNUSED SUBS Kursis, Brellier, Jankauskas, Armstrong

REFEREE Charlie Richmond