London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2004-05--> All for 20050302
<-Page <-Team Wed 02 Mar 2005 Hearts 1 Rangers 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sporting Life ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth None auth-> Hugh Dallas
Mikoliunas Saulius [I Novo 49] ;[F Ricksen pen 94] Dado Prso
12 of 048 Mark Burchill 87 L SPL H


Rangers striker Nacho Novo has praised captain Fernando Ricksen after he held his nerve to take the last-minute penalty which gave his side a precious victory at Hearts.

There was no shortage of incident during the 2-1 victory at Tynecastle with two sendings off coinciding with the penalty.

Rangers striker Dado Prso was shown a second yellow card for manhandling Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon seconds before referee Hugh Dallas awarded the hotly-disputed penalty on the advice of linesman Andy Davis.

Hearts midfielder SauliusH Mikolaunas was so enraged he charged at and barged into the linesman - and was promptly sent off.

These were chaotic scenes and Davis swiftly needed police protection from the angry Hearts fans behind him.

But once order was restored there was still a penalty waiting to be converted if Rangers were to maintain their six-point lead over Celtic at the top of the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Penalties have been a problem for Rangers in recent seasons, with Novo and Prso both having missed spot kicks this term and the recently-returned Barry Ferguson once having missed two in the same game in his first spell at the club.

Ricksen gave Gordon no chance and Novo was certainly grateful.

He said: "I had two consecutive misses so I preferred another player to shoot it. It was a great finish from Fernando. It was quality and he is very confident. And it was three points."

Rangers' manager Alex McLeish was also impressed by the latest cool contribution from a reformed character who in previous seasons would have been more likely to have joined those sent off than netting the winning goal.

He said: "He has been hitting dead balls for a long time now in practice. It's different when there's a crowd there and there is pressure - and it was the last kick of the ball really.

"I was hoping he would hit with the usual firmness that he's been hitting penalties in training and give Craig Gordon less of a chance with the speed of the ball. But it was not only hit with great power, it was also well placed."

Hearts were convinced the penalty, which followed Lee Miller's challenge on Sotirios Kyrgiakos, had been a harsh one and even Novo admitted he was not sure as to its validity.

He said: "I don't know if it was a penalty or not. At first I thought it was but I don't know.

"But it was definitely a good result and the most important thing was the three points."

Novo scored his 23rd goal of the season four minutes into the second half and it looked as though that might have been enough to win the game.

But with three minutes remaining substitute Mark Burchill was presented with a simple tap-in equaliser after a Paul Hartley free kick had rebounded off the post and Novo admitted he had feared vital ground would be lost to Celtic, who were disposing of Dundee at Parkhead.

He said: "There were two minutes before the finish of the game so I did think two points were lost but after that we forced a couple of corners and I thought maybe we could do something - and in the last minute there was a penalty."

Prso will now have to sit out Saturday's home game with Inverness and Steven Thompson is set to replace him.

Novo said: "We have other players and Steven Thompson is a talented player who wants to play every game as well. He is going to be good for the team as well."

Taken from

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