Heart of Midlothian. . .2
RANGERS will be more than happy to start the new year after a final disappointment of 1993 completed an uncharacteristic five months.
Walter Smith's side have been depleted through injury and have proved vulnerable when playing at home, dropping 11 points at Ibrox in the league - including this one when a John Robertson penalty two minutes into injury time earned Hearts an unexpected bonus.
The Edinburgh side, with just one win from 16 games, came to Ibrox more in hope than expectation, but rolled up their sleeves and competed in a physical and bruising encounter.
The visitors took an early lead, were pegged back by two goals from Mark Hateley, but two minutes after the end of normal time were awarded a penalty when Neil Murray handled a corner. The substitute, Robertson, was given the task of taking the kick. He made no mistake to send the visiting supporters home in delirious mood and earn his side their eighth away point.
Their adventure was rewarded with a goal after 10 minutes. A free-kick from the right fell behind Maurice Johnston but landed at the feet of Alan Johnston, whose shot was diverted past Ally Maxwell by John Millar.
From then, the first half belonged to Rangers who spurned several chances before Hateley equalised after 21 minutes with his 19th goal of the season. Trevor Steven, with his back to goal, twisted and turned the Hearts defence before whipping a cross to the back post, where Hateley scored with a magnificent header.
The big striker should have scored again just before half-time when his shot came back off the goalkeeper's legs.
After 70 minutes Hateley put Rangers into the lead when he swept the ball home, completing a direct move involving Steven and the substitute, Pieter Huistra.
However, Hearts had the final say with Robertson's penalty and they go into Saturday's derby match with Hibernian in good heart.
Rangers (4-4-2): Maxwell; Murray, Stevens, Pressley, Brown; Steven, Kuznetsov, McCall (Vinnicombe, 45), Mikhailichenko; Durie (Huistra, 45), Hateley.
Hearts (4-4-2): Walker; Locke, Weir, McLaren, McKinlay; Colquhoun (Robertson, 75), A Johnston (Wright, 70), Berry, Millar; M Johnston, Foster.
Referee: D McVicar (Carluke).