London Hearts Supporters Club

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Craig Levein <-auth None auth-> Mike McCurry
[R de Boer 27]
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Hearts 0 Rangers 1

By Jon West, PA Sport

A first-half goal from Ronald de Boer was enough to dismiss Hearts and give Rangers the chance to defend the CIS Insurance Cup they ended up holding aloft last season.

Alex McLeish's side will take on either Celtic or Dundee United in next month's final, with the second semi due to take place at Hampden on Thursday night.

This was certainly no classic, although some temperature-raising bad feeling between the two sides often filled the void left by an absence of good football.

In the end it became another chapter in the Rangers success story under McLeish, whose Rangers career began in earnest with a defeat of Celtic at this stage of the competition last year.

The league leaders brought former captain Lorenzo Amoruso back after the cut head he had suffered on Scottish Cup duty at Arbroath last month had healed.

Bob Malcolm, who had earlier in the day celebrated his first call-up to the full Scotland squad, was the man who made way.

Hearts, who were attempting to reach their first cup final since their famous 1998 Scottish Cup victory over Rangers, had sent into battle a number of players who were not fully fit, with the lumbering Mark de Vries clearly one of them.

Also apparent was that chief coach Craig Levein's game plan was to frustrate Rangers for the opening 20 minutes or so and the plan worked in so far as it was not until the 27th minute that de Boer actually opened the scoring.

Former Jambo Neil McCann, whose every touch had been booed by the Hearts fans, crossed from the left to Fernando Ricksen at the back post.

The Dutchman might have attempted to have scored himself but instead nodded the ball across goal for his fellow countryman to apply a simple finish with his own head.

Earlier in the day, Scotland manager Berti Vogts had declared Barry Ferguson good enough to play in any team in the world and the Rangers captain looked keen to add to his remarkable goal tally of 16 so far.

He forced Hearts goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen into an early parry from a free-kick and from the rebound Michael Mols fired into the side-netting.

The mis-firing Mols was also off-target when Ferguson scuffed a later long-range effort but did much better when a pass designed for Ferguson was deflected into his path. Moilanen parried once again and was also behind the next effort, another pot-shot from Ferguson.

Hearts had rarely threatened at the other end but their fans did briefly get over-excited with the score still at 0-0 when they thought a free-kick from Jean-Louis Valois had gone in when in fact it had been deflected narrowly wide.

Only one other chance was to come their way before the break when Amoruso fluffed an attempted head away but Valois could only find the arms of Stefan Klos with a shot on the turn.

Hearts did take the lad on the bookings front however, with Phil Stamp cautioned in the 40th minute for a hefty felling of Mols.

The amount of quality football before the break had not been overwhelming and continued to dip steadily after the restart.

Bad-tempered incidents were becoming much more frequent however and the first of note was when Mols and Alan Maybury clashed after challenging for a high ball.

The free-kick had gone Hearts way but Maybury reacted by getting up and barging Mols to the ground.

That incident went unpunished but when Ricksen felled Mahe he was booked and the same fate befell Arteta and Hearts skipper Steven Pressley after they had clashed in the centre circle, which had prompted a mercifully brief melee.

Hearts sent on Kevin McKenna for Stamp with little over 20 minutes remaining and the Canadian went straight up front.

Ricksen was relieved not to be sent off when he caught Pressley late in the Hearts box and it was perhaps his hasty apology that saved him from another early bath.

At last some football broke out and Moilanen kept his side in the game when he made a parry from a fierce Ricksen drive. The loose ball was picked up by McCann but instead of laying the ball back to one of two blue shirts arriving in the box he played it straight to the feet of a defender.

Another promising move involving McCann on the left ended with Ricksen blazing over from just outside the area.

Hearts pressed forward as the minutes ticked away and, having sent Northern Ireland striker Andy Kirk on for Mahe, Valois saw another potentially dangerous effort end up in Klos' hands.

Ferguson might have wrapped things up in stoppage time but fired wide after Hearts had been caught stretched at the back.

The margin of Rangers' victory may have been narrow but Hearts had been second best all game and in the end had not possessed sufficient quality to test their opponents in match that will not be long remembered by the 36,000 souls who braved the cold to witness it.


Hearts: Moilanen, Maybury, Pressley, Webster, Mahe (Kirk 86), Stamp (McKenna 66), Severin, MacFarlane, Valois, de Vries, Wales.

Subs Not Used: McCann, Boyack, Gordon.

Booked: Stamp, Pressley.

Rangers: Klos, Ross, Moore, Amoruso, Numan, Ricksen, Ferguson, Arteta, de Boer, Mols (Caniggia 73), McCann.

Subs Not Used: Malcolm, Bonnissel, Arveladze, McGregor.

Booked: Ricksen, Arteta.

Goals: de Boer 27.

Att: 31,609

Ref: Michael McCurry (Scotland).

Taken from

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