Match Reports

Match Report: Rangers 1-1 Hearts

16th October 2021

Hearts maintained their unbeaten start to the cinch Premiership following a dramatic draw at Ibrox against champions Rangers.

Craig Halkett’s 90th minute leveller was a just reward for a dogged display by the Jambos, who had trailed at the break to John Lundstram’s long-range effort.

Robbie Neilson made one change to the side that defeated Motherwell 2-0 prior to the international break, with John Souttar coming back into the side in place of Taylor Moore.

The home side, as anticipated, came out of the traps hard and put pressure on the Gorgie defence early doors. Scott Wright was first to draw a save from Craig Gordon, his effort from the edge of the area parried away by the keeper.

Some slack play at the back gave Rangers an opening on thirteen minutes, when a misplaced pass was intercepted by Wright, who slid the ball across the edge of the area for Joe Aribo who found Alfredo Morelos with a first-time pass, but the Colombian fired wide with his left foot.

It was Scotland’s number one to rescue again on the half-hour. Borna Barisic’s corner was headed goalwards by Leon Balogun, with Gordon diving down to his left to save, parrying the ball back out to Balogun who took a shot and Gordon somehow saved again before the ball was cleared off the line by Michael Smith.

The Rangers pressure did eventually tell two minutes before half-time. Ianis Hagi’s cross into the area wasn’t cleared properly, and the ball fell to Lundstram who curled a superb strike into the net from 25 yards, despite Gordon nearly producing another superb stop.

The second half was slightly more cagey from both sides, with Rangers more content to play on the break, sitting as they were with the lead. Cammy Devlin tried to get things started, when he burst into the area and fired a ball across the box but Allan McGregor got to it before Liam Boyce.

Hearts looked to take advantage of the home crowd's nervousness with two chances inside a minute.

Beni Baningime won the ball midway inside the Rangers half, sliding it through for Boyce who drew a superb save from McGregor, although the flag was raised. A moment later, Barrie McKay produced a moment of pure wizardry, dribbling through four players and into the area but again McGregor made a save, this time with his feet, before Devlin tried his luck from the edge of the area, denied once more by McGregor.

At this point, Hearts changed formation, introducing Armand Gnanduillet and Gary Mackay-Steven, who joined Josh Ginnelly on the park in a switch to 4-2-3-1, in the hope that this would add even more attacking threat.

It was now end-to-end. Rangers sub Kemar Roofe was played in by Morelos, and drew Gordon out, with the keeper producing another superb save to deflect the striker's effort onto the post. Then, Rangers could have won it.

Roofe spun away from Stephen Kingsley, and slid a ball across the face for Morelos who somehow turned the ball wide with an open goal in front of him. At the other end, GMS found Gnanduillet with a superb cross ball, he took the ball down on his chest and slammed a left-footed strike at goal, with McGregor tipping it around the post.

There was still time for one final twist. Ginnelly drove at Barisic, winning a corner, and Mackay-Steven whipped an in swinger on top of McGregor, who missed the ball entirely, and it landed on the head of Halkett who nodded home to send the 900 Hearts fans wild, and to keep Hearts just one point from the summit of the table.

Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Lundstram, Goldson, Hagi (Davis, 75'), Aribo (Roofe, 75'), Kamara, Morelos, Wright (Bacuna, 60'), Balogun, Barisic. Subs: McLaughlin, Bassey, Patterson, Sakala.

Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Kingsley, Souttar, Baningime, Woodburn (Ginnelly, 60'), Boyce, Devlin, Cochrane (Gnanduillet, 77'), McKay (Mackay-Steven, 82'), Halkett. Subs: Stewart, Haring, Moore, Halliday.

Referee: Don Robertson