Football: Hearts' dreams of the title damaged by rampant Rangers

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Tynecastle, which was destined to be the proving ground for Hearts' title ambitions, became instead the killing field for their dreams as a weakened Rangers side hit rampant form to demolish the wall of invincibility Jim Jefferies has been attempting to build around his side.

Gordon Durie was the principal architect with a hat-trick, while further goals from Marco Negri and Jorg Albertz gave Walter Smith's side a 5-2 victory to take them top of the league.

The measure of Hearts' form this season can be determined by the fact that they have lost all four games this season against Celtic and Rangers and are still just two points behind.

Less comfortable for Rangers supporters is the thought that Brian Laudrup could be moving on at the end of the season. The Dane, whose contract expires in the summer, has already indicated that interest has been shown from several clubs, and as of 1 January he would be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with any interested party.

Before then there will be the vital match with Celtic on 2 January. Wim Jansen's side easily disposed of the Hibernian, with a 5-0 victory at Celtic Park. The highlight was a double for Craig Burley, who has improved almost weekly since his move from Chelsea in the summer, his latest strikes giving him a total of nine goals for the season.

Aberdeen continued to struggle with their manager, Alex Miller, still seeking a first victory after four games in charge since coming north from Coventry. The inclusion of new signing Derek Whyte from Middles- brough was not enough to prevent Kilmarnock securing a 1-0 win thanks to Paul Wright's strike.

Perhaps the most important result of the top three was Motherwell's 2- 0 win over Dunfermline, which takes them five points clear of Hibs, who are second from bottom.