Klos at the controls to shut out lively Hearts

Rangers 2 Heart of Midlothian 1
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The Independent Football

Chris Burke restored some equilibrium to Rangers after their damaging defeat at Dunfermline last week, but the man who kept the champions from spilling more points in the Scottish Premier League title race was the peerless Stefan Klos.

The German goalkeeper shies away from headlines, so he will be pleased to see Burke claim the spotlight for the decisive 52nd-minute goal instead of his succession of saves that frustrated Hearts. The visitors had not managed a win over Rangers for five years and were without five key players, but their ambitious approach contributed to one of the most entertaining games of the season.

After just nine minutes, Kevin McKenna pressganged into a forward role because of his height - met Robert Sloan's corner only for his header to be cleared off the line by Shota Arveladze. However, Hearts' reward came just two minutes later as Andy Kirk struck the club's 7,000th League goal. Klos pawed away another Sloan corner from underneath the bar but Kirk pounced, and his half-hit shot somehow squeezed between the post and Mikel Arteta.

The surge in Hearts' confidence was visible; the effect on the irate Rangers support was for them to get on their team's backs.

However, Arveladze soothed those nerves in the 22rd minute with an equaliser that was greeted around Ibrox with relief. Fernando Ricksen's pass allowed Michael Mols to scamper clear, but the Dutch forward was denied by goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who saved with his legs and was harshly punished when the ball spun up for Arveladze to find the net with a looping header.

The Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper, who is spoken of as a candidate for Berti Vogts' senior side, had better luck with a remarkable save from Peter Lovenkrands a few minutes later, as he reacted well to block the Dane's volley with his feet.

However, the benchmark for every keeper in the Scottish Premier League is set by Klos, and the German underlined that with a vital save six minutes before the interval as Neil McFarlane's excellent surge down the right ended with a cross for Sloan, whose left-foot shot from 12 yards was beaten away by Klos. Gordon, though, eclipsed that a few minutes later, to deny Arveladze's header and ensure parity for the second half.

Seven minutes into the second half Burke nudged Rangers in front. Hearts were caught square, betraying the absence of three-quarters of their regular back four - Scotland pair Steven Pressley and Andy Webster, along with Republic of Ireland full-back Alan Maybury - as Lovenkrands threaded a pass into Mols's run. The forward clipped a pass across the face of goal for Burke to stab the ball in from close range.

Klos's day was still not finished. He made a great leap to push McKenna's header wide on the hour before blocking Robbie Neilson's goalbound shot in injury time as Hearts pushed for an equaliser.

Rangers 2
Arveladze 22, Burke 52

Heart of Midlothian 1
Kirk 11

Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 49,592

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