Andrews breaks Hearts to put Rangers back on top

Rangers 2 - Heart of Midlothian 1
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The Independent Online

Marvin Andrews has defied doctors to play a role in Rangers' title run-in, so who better than the towering defender to produce the goal that kept their Scottish Premier League ambitions alive?

Marvin Andrews has defied doctors to play a role in Rangers' title run-in, so who better than the towering defender to produce the goal that kept their Scottish Premier League ambitions alive?

Alex McLeish's side returned to the top of the table, although their residency could be fleeting because Celtic play catch-up today. Andrews, who refused to have surgery on a knee injury and opted for a faith healer, produced the decisive goal just before half-time, although he later blemished his contribution with an own goal that saw Rangers endure a nervous finale.

A traffic snarl-up caused by a road accident ensured that the Hearts team bus did not arrive at Ibrox until 40 minutes before kick-off. Perhaps that was responsible for the sloppy opening from John Robertson's side, who found themselves behind after just nine minutes.

Good play between Fernando Ricksen and Dado Prso provided a chance for Nacho Novo, who skipped past three tackles before clipping the ball over Craig Gordon, the Hearts goalkeeper. Andy Webster's goal-line clearance fell only to Thomas Buffel, who scored with a header.

Ibrox was roused but Paul Hartley almost restored parity with a low free-kick which Ronald Waterreus, the Rangers goalkeeper, had to touch wide of the post.

Rangers, though, kept control of the contest. Prso was denied a goal just before the half-hour mark when Gordon produced a fine one-handed save from his shot, while Andrews produced an ugly attempt from a decent angle.

However, the Trinidad defender atoned for that miss in the 42nd minute, when he reacted swiftly to Buffel's driven shot after Gregory Vignal's corner was only half-cleared. Andrews' sidefoot flick beat Gordon from six yards.

However, rather than build on that platform, Rangers took their foot off the pedal after the interval. The soporific mood was not disturbed until the 65th minute when Shota Arveladze's pace carved Hearts open on the left and his cutback was met by Buffel, whose venomous shot thumped off the underside of the bar and bounced out.

Hearts then created a chance when Michael Stewart threaded a fine pass into Hartley's run. The Scotland midfielder was about to pull the trigger but Vignal provided a vital intervention.

The anxiety level around Ibrox rose six minutes from time with Andrews' own goal. Stewart's deep free-kick was diverted past Waterreus by the outstretched boot of Andrews, who panicked in the face of little pressure. Stephen Simmons then raised the home fans' blood pressure with a volley that flew narrowly over the bar but Rangers crept over the finishing line.

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