London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Wed 02 Feb 2011 Rangers 1 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Ewan Murray auth-> Brian Winter
[K Lafferty 4]
8 of 009 -----L SPL A

Kyle Lafferty gives Rangers revenge over Hearts ahead of Old Firm date

Rangers 1
* Lafferty 4

Hearts 0

Ewan Murray at Ibrox

The key objective for Rangers here was obviously to move to within five points of Celtic. Their understandable hope beyond that was for El Hadj Diouf to enjoy a controversy-free debut in blue.

Diouf played for longer than his latest manager, Walter Smith, had intended after stepping from among the substitutes to replace Lee McCulloch with just 20 minutes played.

The Senegal forward, renowned for delving into the more unpleasant sides of football once too often, wasn't particularly impressive. Given his rapid introduction to Scottish football, there was justifiable cause for that; Smith would take more pleasure from the fact Diouf's time on the pitch was pretty low-key.

"I was pleased with the way he [Diouf] did, considering serial killers get less publicity than he has had over the past few days," said Smith. "He needs time because he hasn't played for a few weeks but he showed he is keen to be involved."

The game itself was peculiar, and noticeably short on scoring chances.

Hearts were left to rue a poor start and a lack of belief when within 25 yards of the Rangers goal; defeats to both halves of the Old Firm during successive midweek trips to Glasgow have dashed hopes the Edinburgh team had of gatecrashing the Scottish Premier League title race.

Kyle Lafferty, rather than Diouf, proved the crucial figure. The Northern Irishman capitalised on dozy Hearts defending within four minutes, collecting a Steven Whittaker pass before firing home, first-time, beyond Marian Kello.

The Ibrox decibel level was raised even further with 20 minutes played as Diouf entered proceedings from among the substitutes. Pre-match suggestions that even the Rangers support has reservations about the arrival of a player known as much for spitting as shooting proved wide of the mark.

Hearts woke up with a quarter of the game played. Their captain Marius Zaliukas forced Allan McGregor into a fine save with a header from 12 yards before Stephen Elliott only narrowly failed to connect with a Craig Thomson cross.

Diouf's first intervention was to embellish a Zaliukas challenge before Hearts' Ian Black clattered the former Blackburn man. Black, having injured the Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic during a meeting of these teams in October, is already about as popular as toothache around Ibrox. "It was the same as the one which put Jelavic out for three months," added an angered Smith.

Black was withdrawn at half-time, a move clearly made with the prevention of a red card in mind. Perhaps that had something to do with the tame nature of the second half. Hearts continued to be tidy, but without much of a cutting edge, whilst their hosts looked edgy rather than confident with their narrow lead.

Taken from the Guardian/Observer

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