ARE YOU BOYDIE IN DISGUISE? He can't run, won't work but always scores, so Andrius...
Byline: James Traynor
RANGERS 2 HEARTS 0
HIS strike-rate's phenomenal but his appetite for work appalling. He can look dead on his feet, yet he can also be deadly on them.
He is perhaps the most frustrating striker Walter Smith has had but this season he just might be one of the most valuable.
And his name? AndriusVelicka of course.
Yes, Kris Boyd Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. was also there yesterday and in the closing minutes of a tense, whirlwind encounter he took his tally of goals for Rangers to 101 - but it was the other frontman.
It was Velicka's goal seconds before the break which stunned Hearts and lifted Rangers. But rarely can a player who had done so little have contributed so much with one touch.
The big, lumbering Lithuanian has come in from the Murray Park Murray Park is the name of Rangers F.C.'s training facility in Auchenhowie, Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow. The complex was first proposed by the then manager Dick Advocaat when he arrived at the club in 1998. wilderness and his return has had a critical bearing on Rangers' hopes of winning the championship.
Yesterday's goal was his fifth in six starts.
Even in Boyd's world that is an extraordinary return, especially when from a player who makes Boyd look like one of the game's most industrious performers. Velicka's work ethic revolves around tying up his boot laces.
That's about as tough as his shift gets, yet Walter Smith has a lot to thank the big man for as the season clatters on to a thrilling climax.
Now the Old Firm go head to head for the final time in this campaign and their match, at Ibrox on Saturday, could decide the title.
Celtic are one point better off but could have been three perhaps even four if Hearts had enjoyed a bit more luck.
They had more possession than they could have expected at Ibrox but left with nothing, not even a goal. Or a penalty, which they all believed they should have been given when Calum Elliott went down in the box as he tried to get away from StevenWhittaker.
Ref Iain Brines saw nothing illegal and Rangers breathed again. All the pressure had been on them going into the game after Celtic had taken maximum points at Pittodrie and Hearts sensed they could do more than their 2-2 draw last time at Ibrox.
Also, with Madjid Bougherra suspended and Lee McCulloch the Edinburgh side were determined to get at Rangers and make them sweat. They certainly did that and Andy Driver was their main tormentor.
The flying winger switched from left to right and back to left terrorising Whittaker and Christian Dailly. If only Driver, who is unplayable when he is in this kind of electric form, could add a decent final ball to his repertoire he'd be a genuine star.
Michael Stewart also shone for Hearts but it was Rangers who were beaming brightly at the end, especially when Boyd grabbed his goal a couple of minutes from time.
Rangers got the job done with two of their strikers finding the net and Smith will be thinking long and hard before he settles on his frontline for the Old Firm game.
Does he tackle Celtic withVelicka and Boyd - a double as mobile as twin fence posts? Or does he go with Kenny Miller ? Maybe even find a place for fit-again Kyle Lafferty, who returned to the first team yesterday as a second-half sub.
Bougherra will be back to strengthen the defence although McCulloch did well. He had to because Hearts started superbly.
They looked desperate for the points as they surged forward although Christos Karipidis, who is leaving at the end of the season, conceded a free-kick 23 yards out.
Boyd made it clear this one would be his which was a pity for Rangers because the striker's effort didn't get beyond the wall.
Hearts sensed they could take advantage on their left side but were also finding joy in midfield because Rangers' backline backline
the upper outline of the body's silhouette viewed from the side. was sitting deep.
Stewart and Elliott were getting space in the middle of the pitch and the Ibrox management were forced to the edge of their technical area to urge Weir to push his side up, to constrict that space and get their own midfield players into the match.
Steven Smith's reaction wasn't exactly what they were after. He was booked for a late challenge on Eggert Jonsson but even so the Ibrox side were growing in confidence.
Stewart was booked for flying into a tackle against Mendes and the Edinburgh side gave away a stupid foul 25 yards out. Smith took it and although he struck the ball well Marian Kello rose to clasp it under his bar.
Hearts had lost some of the drive thathad troubled Rangers in the early stages of the first half although Bruno Aguiar surged through and fired off two shots.
The first was blocked, the ball broke back to him and he tried again but Neil Alexander made a decent save.
Then Driver sped down Rangers' right and although he beatWhittaker for pace his shot was wide of Alexander's goal.
Driver again broke clear and this time his shot was blocked by Mendes but Hearts had rediscovered their desire and were beginning to threaten again. However, they would be caught out just before half-time.
First,Maurice Edu's low shot hurtled wide and then Boyd was through.Velicka lobbed the ball to the striker who looked up, saw Kello off his line and chipped the ball in.
Boyd could only throw his head back in despair as the ball hit the top of the bar but the goal was coming. Smith sent a corner to the back post, Boyd headed into the middle and there wasVelicka waiting to knock it in.
The player who had done nothing throughout the first half had givenRangers the lead. Does he really think he is Boyd? Hearts also started the second half well winning two corners on their right in quick succession as Hearts searched for a goal.
They were also searching for Driver because he had the beating ofWhittaker and was their most dangerous player.
Mike Tullberg wasn't and his game was over in 54 minutes when Christian Nade took over up front. A minute later Velicka made way for Kenny Miller but itwasNade who was first into action.
He tried to get on to a good pass from Driver but this time Whittaker was quick enough and slid in to take the ball away from Nade. Whittaker clipped the back foot of Elliott in 61 minutes and must have feared the worst.
Elliott went down in the box but Brines didn't point to the spot perhaps because he knew he should have awarded Rangers a penalty a second before when Edu was fouled.
Hearts fans, who were packed into the corner between the Govan and Broomloan Stands, were furious.
Robbie Neilson was booked for a foul on Smith just before Steven Davis burst into the box and almost scored and then Driver did the same at the other end after Edu had required treatment.
He carried on but in 74 minutes Lafferty took over from Smith. Laryea Kingston was sent on for David Obua six minutes from the end and Driver moved back over to the left wing.
Dailly, who was not having a good afternoon, must have groaned inside. So too did those Rangers fans who had been bemoaning every poor pass or delivery.
But Dailly is nothing if not a trier and if only the lumbering Velicka had a fraction of his industry.
Boyd's goal arrived two minutes from time and its construction was a joy to watch. The build-up involved Mendes, Davis and Miller and it was his ball into the middle that Boyd knocked in and finally killed Hearts' spirit.
It means Saturday's Old Firm match carries so much significance. In fact, so much depends on the outcome of this one game that even Velicka might be moved. He might even break into a trot.
MAN OF THE MATCH Pedro Mendes (Rangers)
FIRST FEAT: Kris Boyd hails Andrius Velicka after the Lithuanian's opener and, below, Boydie gets in on the act to clinch victory to the relief of boss Walter Smith and Ally McCoist
Taken from the Daily Record