London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2008-09--> All for 20080816
<-Page <-Team Sat 16 Aug 2008 Rangers 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Observer ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Patrick Glenn auth-> Stuart Dougal
Mikoliunas Saulius [K Lafferty 37] ;[K Boyd pen 91]
12 of 023 ----- L SPL A

Boyd seals it from the spot

Scottish Premier
Rangers 2

* Lafferty 37,
* Boyd (pen) 90

Hearts 0

* Patrick Glenn
* The Observer,

Rangers doubled the margin of victory by which they had beaten Falkirk on the opening day, but the difference in quality and effectiveness between those two performances will have been more important in bringing some much needed encouragement to a support whose overriding emotion recently has been deep apprehension.

Kyle Lafferty broke his duck and Kris Boyd converted an injury-time penalty to secure the points, but it was Pedro Mendes and his exhibition of midfield creativity that must have been most gratifying to those searching for signs that the Ibrox side are recovering from their recent travails. Hearts, with substitute Saulius Mikoliunas sent off within a few minutes of coming on, were the team left in need of redemption.

That goal from Lafferty simply confirmed the impression that the general lifelessness that had been a feature of Rangers' play in their season opener at Falkirk had been replaced by a renewed vigour. The transformation was at least partly due to the restoration of one old and the introduction of one new face.

David Weir's return to the heart of the defence brought the conviction and stability that had been noticeably absent, while Mendes, signed from Portsmouth 24 hours earlier, was often a composed, intelligent and skilful influence in a midfield that had been shockingly uninspiring during the Ibrox side's reverses in Europe before the domestic campaign started.

Weir's uncompromising defending, allied to calm and accurate distribution of the ball, would have seemed like a gift to Madjid Bougherra, the Algeria centre-half signed from Charlton in time to make a rather disconcerting debut at Falkirk. With Weir performing with such aplomb beside him, especially during a first half in which Rangers were emphatically the more ambitious and dangerous team, Bougherra was inspired to move forward at the opportune moment to supply Lafferty with the means to open the scoring.

It was Bougherra's forceful work on the right, followed by a low cut-back, that allowed Lafferty to place his right-foot shot from about 16 yards far to the left of Jamie MacDonald. It was a terrific finish by the towering Northern Ireland forward, his first goal for Rangers since he joined from Burnley bringing him instant acceptance in the stands.

Hearts' 4-5-1 formation was designed to give them numerical superiority in midfield, but, with their most creative player, Laryea Kingston, deployed wide on the right of the five, his potential influence was greatly diminished. Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager, clearly recognised the need for a different approach when, after a few minutes of the second half, he turned to a 4-4-2, replacing midfielder Andrius Ksanavicius with the striker Christian Nade. But, with Kingston, who appeared to have been struggling after taking some knocks, replaced by Mikoliunas a little later, the visitors were, for most of the time, no more effective than before.

They were not helped by the dismissal of Mikoliunas just eight minutes after he had taken the field. As acts of folly go, the Lithuanian's would win prizes. Having been cautioned for diving within a minute of his arrival, the second yellow came as a result of a late and needless challenge on substitute Kenny Miller.

Rangers should have extended their advantage even before any of the changes had been made, but Boyd's frustration by MacDonald simply led to an opportunity at the other end from which Hearts should have equalised. It was another incisive and precise pass from Mendes that released Boyd through the inside-left channel, but he delayed his shot long enough to allow MacDonald to make the block at his feet.

The ball was instantly switched upfield to Andrew Driver, who tried a wickedly swerving shot that forced Allan McGregor to parry the ball back into the fray. Mole followed up but his drive was too close to the goalkeeper, who made a comfortable save. 'Comfortable' would also describe Rangers' victory, despite the closeness of the score.

Taken from the Guardian/Observer

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