Remember when Hearts ran out 4-2 winners over Rangers at Tynecastle back in 2007? No? Then join us for a trip down memory lane…
September 15th, 2007 saw Anatoliy Korobochka take charge of his 17th match at the club’s helm after he was appointed as joint permanent manager along with Stephen Frail in the summer.
Though only five games into the 2007/08 season, it had been a fairly downbeat start for the duo; one SPL win was complimented by two draws and two defeats – including a bitterly disappointing opening day Edinburgh derby loss at home and a 5-0 humbling at Celtic Park – which left the Jambos 9th in the table on five points.
Prior to the international break that preceded this match, Hearts had picked up a morale-boosting three points at Fir Park. Larry Kingston opened the scoring before Andrius Velicka sealed a 2-0 win in stoppage time.
Opponents Rangers, under the guide of Walter Smith - who had returned to Ibrox six-months previously after departing the Scotland job - were sitting top of the league with five wins from five.
Battling on home and European fronts, this was Rangers’ first match in two weeks following a comprehensive 4-0 home win over newly-promoted Gretna.
Hearts: Banks, Neilson, Wallace, Tall, Stewart, Berra, Kingston, Zaliukas, Nade, Ksanavicius, Driver. Subs: Kurskis, Palazuelos, Elliot, Ivaskevicius, Pospisil, Kancelskis, Karipidis.
Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Papac, Cuellar, Thomson, Weir, Whittaker, Faye, Cousin, Boyd, Beasley. Subs: Smith, Ferguson, Novo, Darcheville, Naismith, Loy, Lennon.
A typically frantic affair exploded into life early on. Christian Nade combined power and skill to bedazzle the Rangers defence, with the ball eventually breaking to Andrius Ksanavicius, whose 25-yard drive was tipped around the post by Allan McGregor.
Hearts took the lead only 12 minutes in. Ksanavicius plucked the ball from the air 20-yards out before turning Sasa Papac and feeding Andy Driver on the left-hand side of the box, and he drilled an unstoppable effort beyond McGregor and into the back of the net.
14 minutes later it was 2-0. Marius Zaliukas hit a low shot to the edge of the box, which Christophe Berra took the sting out of before Ibrahim Tall spun and hooked an effort from 18-yards over the head of the despairing McGregor.
Three minutes into the second half the visitors were handed a lifeline when Robbie Neilson lunged in on Barry Ferguson inside the box, swiping the midfielder’s legs. Daniel Cousin stepped up and slotted past Steve Banks from the spot.
The Jambos had an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and Rangers when Michael Stewart’s cutback found Ksanavicius inside the box, but he scuffed his shot wide of the target.
That third goal did come in the 65th minute, via the penalty spot. Larry Kingston swung a ball into the box and substitute Kestutis Ivaskevicius got to it before Alan Hutton, only to be fouled by the full back. Stewart made no mistake from the spot, firing a pinpoint penalty into McGregor’s right-hand corner.
A further three minutes had passed before the men in maroon made it 4-1. Nade found Ivaskevicius on the left, and he cut inside before hitting a low drive from the edge of the box which squirmed underneath McGregor and into the net.
Rangers did pull one back with 17 minutes remaining. Substitute Jean-Claude Darcheville fed DeMarcus Beasley inside the box and he fired past Banks from eight-yards.
There was to be no comeback for the Ibrox side as Hearts held out for a win against the odds, though McGregor somehow escaped a red card late on after a crude mid-air stamp on Calum Elliot, who had been chasing a through a ball.
The win took Hearts up to 7th in the table, only two points off fifth-placed Dundee United, while Rangers were leapfrogged by Celtic, who moved into top spot.
The Jambos couldn’t carry that moment immediately forward, however, falling to a 2-1 defeat in Inverness the week after.
The Korobochka-Frail reign lasted until January 1st, 2008, after a run of five consecutive defeats saw Frail become caretaker manager while Korobochka returned to the director of football position.
A forgettable league season ended with Hearts in 8th, while Rangers were pipped to the title by Celtic, who won it by three points.
What they said
Michael Stewart: “Going from each game to the next, picking up three points and victories is like a snowballing effect just like previously when we weren’t getting the results.
“Things can look a lot worse than they actually are and now we’ve got to try and build on the confidence that we’ve got and move forward together as a team.”
Stephen Frail (quotes from The Sunday Herald): "The Miko thing might have galvanised the team," he said, alluding to the furore over the dive which earned his country a penalty against Scotland eight days ago.
"There was a lot of criticism of him - rightly so - but it went well over the top. That pulled our team together."
David McCarthy (Daily Record): There is nothing in Scottish football like Tynecastle when it bubbles and boils as it did on Saturday.
It seethed with spite as Hearts and Rangers went to war in what resembled a bear-pit at times, with fans, players and coaches baiting each other for 90 pulsating minutes. And the bears got mauled.
Hugh MacDonald (The Herald): Hearts were robust with their only concession to subtlety being the employment of the clever Audrius Ksanavicius off Nade. Both could prosper in the league this season. They were the cutting edge of a side that bludgeoned Rangers to perdition.
The home defence, with Christophe Berra outstanding, saw off Kris Boyd who retired hurt with a head injury that required stitches.
Gordon Waddell (Sunday Mail): Barry Ferguson sat on the bench and watched Hearts bury Rangers up to their necks in trouble in 45 stunning minutes.
By the time the Ibrox skipper got stripped for the second half he couldn't have dug them out of it with a JCB.
The resurgent Jambos swamped Gers from the first minute, bristling with an aggression and hunger they haven't shown in months. The league leaders just couldn't cope with them.
To relive this match and watch highlights on HeartsTV, click here.