RANGERS discovered their self-belief in the second half to earn themselves three points yesterday, but what a difference a couple of goals can make to a team.
Rangers came into this game on the back of three consecutive home defeats and although it took them until the 58th minute to overcome stern resistance, Brian Laudrup and Mark Hateley set up a victory which was in the end comfortable enough.
However, despite the scoreline, Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, will know there is still room for improvement. There was enough evidence in a scrappy first half to suggest the fluency has still to return to Rangers play and only the class of Laudrup made things happen for the home side.
'Hopefully, this result will ease the tension and we can start a run of such results,' Smith said. 'When clubs the size of Rangers go through the kind of spell we have everyone's confidence takes a knock. We have missed a natural goal-scorer in Ally McCoist and while Laudrup definitely creates goals he'll benefit from McCoist coming back into the side.'
The Rangers striker, according to Smith, could be available for first-team action in two weeks' time and in his absence it was left to the Dane to provide all three goals as he luxuriated in freedom on the left side unwisely granted him by Hearts.
In 58 minutes he threaded a ball through the visitors' defence to leave Hateley one on one with the goalkeeper, and when the striker was felled in attempting to round Henry Smith the referee pointed to the penalty spot and Hateley himself opening the scoring.
After 71 minutes Laudrup again created the opening as Rangers increased their lead. His cross from the left eluded the defence, allowing Hateley to come in at the back post and stab the ball home. Five minutes later goal No 3 was scored, courtesy of a Laudrup pass to the overlapping David Robertson, whose cross on the left was too high for Hateley but perfect for Gordon Durie, who headed into the net.
The crisis epithet now shifts from Rangers to a Hearts side who have collected just one point from the first four games. Their build- up was studied and predictable, at times unsettling, but too rarely threatening the Rangers defence to inspire optimism among their ranks.
With the need for new faces obvious and the club left with little money to spend following rebuilding work at Tynecastle, the pressure will increase on manager Tommy McLean to realise a good price for Alan McLaren.
Rangers (4-4-2): Goram; Moore, Gough, McPherson (Durie, 45), Robertson; Murray, I Ferguson, McCall, Durrant; Hateley, Laudrup (D Ferguson, 77). Substitute not used: Maxwell (gk).
Hearts (3-4-3): Smith; Berry, Levin, Millar; Locke (Hogg, 79), Leitch, McLaren, McKinlay; Colquhoun, M Johnston, Robertson (A Johnston, 79). Substitute not used: O'Connor (gk)
Referee: J McCluskey (Stewarton).Reuse content