Rangers are on the brink of clinching the SPL title for the second year in a row after a 2-0 victory over Hearts at Ibrox. Goals from Kyle Lafferty and Kenny Miller mean that Rangers can clinch at Easter Road next Sunday, regardless of Celtic’s result on the Saturday.
Walter Smith made two changes to the side that battled out a 0-0 draw at Tannadice in midweek. Kevin Thomson came in for Maurice Edu who limped off in that game, while Kris Boyd came in for his ex Kilmarnock team mate Steven Naismith.
Both teams were desperate to get the three points today for different reasons, Hearts to try and get into a Europa League position, and Rangers obviously to try and tie up the title as soon as possible but it was a scrappy first half where chances were few and far between. Both teams were restricted to only half chances.
One of Rangers best ‘half chances’ came from Madjid Bougherra when yet another one of his runs down the right hand side resulted in a cross-come-shot which nearly caught out Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. It was much like the effort Bougherra had against United midweek only this time it looked like he may actually have meant it.
Another Rangers chance came from a corner kick. The ball was headed towards the goal but it was cleared off the line by Kingston. It was a comfortable clearance though and the Hearts man was always going to get it. That was the two best efforts of the first half.
Rangers looked a lot more up for it after the break however and Jamie MacDonald had to be alert to save a Kenny Miller header early on in the half after Sasa Papac had sent in a good cross.
After Bouzid sent in a powerful shot for Hearts which went just over, Rangers finally got the lead after Kyle Lafferty headed in superbly from a Kevin Thomson corner. Lafferty was unmarked but still done well to head the ball into the net from a difficult angle. He then proceeded to celebrate with his now trademark robotic dance.
Kevin Thomson, who had set up the first goal from the corner was so unlucky not to score himself when he curled in a shot from about 20 yards. It was a great effort but it hit the top left hand post after a slight touch from MacDonald.
Rangers then got the second goal they craved to kill the game off after the two Rangers substitutes combined. Nacho Novo sent a perfect ball into the box for Steven Naismith to give him an easy opportunity, but he was pushed by Jonsson and a penalty was awarded. Jonsson was also giving his marching orders by the referee.
Kenny Miller converted the penalty despite the best efforts of Jamie MacDonald to keep it out, and Rangers could breathe easy knowing the three points were wrapped up and they were now only one win away from clinching the title.
Rangers McGregor, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac
Davis, Thomson, McCulloch, Lafferty (Naismith 69), Boyd (Novo 78), Miller.
SUBS NOT USED: Alexander, Wilson, Edu, Fleck, Little.
SCORERS: Laffery (54) Miller (pen 84).
Hearts Wallace, Obua, Bouzid, Zaliukas, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Santana (Templeton 82), Black, Kingston (Stewart 74), Thomson (Robinson 62).
SUBS NOT USED: Ridgers, Thomson, Stevenson, Elliot.
BOOKED: Obua, Black, Kingston, Thomson, Robinson.
SENT OFF: Jonsson.
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