Sizzling Hearts stun Rangers
Hearts proved it certainly is a game of two halves at Ibrox by scoring twice in the second half to ensure a point went back down the M8 to Gorgie and moved the Jambos six points clear in third place.
Csaba Laszlo made three changes to the side that had lost at Easter Road, with McDonald, Zaliukas and Cesnauskis replacing Balogh, Jonsson and Driver.
After a lively start from both sides, Hearts found themselves a goal down inside the opening 10 minutes after a mistake in midfield allowed Damarcus Beasley to send a pinpoint ball onto Lafferty who in turn buried the ball low past Jamie McDonald.
Hearts found it hard to penetrate Rangers and Lafferty's and Beasley's pace was causing a lot of trouble in the Tynecastle side's midfield. Beasley had the chance to put Rangers two up on 14 minutes but lifted his effort over the crossbar.
A break in play ensued as Rangers goal scorer Kyle Lafferty was stretchered from the field and during this stoppage Csaba seemed to have a couple of minutes to speak to the players and when the game resumed Hearts were more involved. It wasn't to last long though. Right on the stroke of half time a Rangers corner found Barry Ferguson unmarked in the box, the Rangers skipper picked his spot and drilled it low into McDonald's left hand corner.
The half time interval saw the introduction of Calum Elliot and from the restart Hearts looked a different side. Manager Laszlo's half time team talk certainly had the desired impact.
Hearts fought for every ball and the persistence paid off when Aguiar's corner found the head of Karipidis who bundled the ball over the line, at first it seemed the goal would be disallowed but the linesman awarded the goal.
The momentum was all with the Jambos and two minutes later the corner of Hearts fans were sent into jubilation as David Obua's tenacity on the wing saw him whip in the ball to Calum Elliot, who had saw the run made by Palazuelos into the penalty area. He knocked the ball back and Ruben tucked the ball into McGregor's left hand corner. Hearts had dragged themselves back into this match.
The last 15 minutes was scrappy to say the least and Hearts defended the score line as if their lives depended on it. Zaliukas and Palazuelos in particular were outstanding and chased everything, but generally in the second half every player gave their all. Rangers tried to push at the end but Hearts had locked them out. There was no way the Jambos were leaving Ibrox with nothing after the fightback form 2-0.
Moments from the end Calum Elliot, absolutely sensational in the second period, then went on what could have been the run of his career, darting down the left wing, tricking Whittaker and then lashing a shot which was brilliantly pushed away by McGregor. It could have been three points, never mind the one.
The game finished 2-2, leaving many in disbelief that after a poor first half performance, Hearts dominated the second and got the two goals needed to determine a share of the points. It did however leave everyone asking the question what exactly Csaba say to the team at half time?
Rangers: McGregor; Papac; Dailly, McCulloch, Whittaker; Beasley (Naismith , Mendes, Ferguson, Davis; Boyd, Lafferty (Novo 36). Subs not used: Alexander, Edu, Naismith, Miller, Fleck,Wilson.
Hearts: McDonld; Neilson, Karipidis, Zaliukas, Wallace; Cesnauskis (Elliot 45), Stewart, Palazuelos, Obua; Aguiar; Nade, (Tullberg 71). Subs not used: Radgers, Jonsson, Mikoliunas, Mrowiec, Templeton.
Referee: Craig Thomson
Top man: Marius Zaliukas