Laszlo keeps up the chat as Smith is slack

Rangers 2 Hearts 2
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The Independent Football

Csaba Laszlo was in fine form after watching his Hearts come back from two goals down. The Transylvanian-born Hungarian can talk incessantly on a quiet day, usually in sentences minutes long and often incomprehensible. So when he is in an effusive mood, there is no stopping him. There was time for only two questions in his post-match press conference, and his replies lasted some 15 minutes.

There was something in there about strangling a chicken. The message was not clear, but Laszlo is absolutely not a man to ask to repeat himself. He would. And there was something about a Trabant and a BMW. The general consensus was he meant Hearts were a Trabant to Rangers' BMW at the start, but the Trabant ultimately proved not as bad as assumed.

What was obvious was that he agreed his team were rubbish in the first half, conceding to Kyle Lafferty and Barry Ferguson while barely able to pass to each other. He made his views clear at half-time, and was happy that a change in tactics and personnel (he brought on striker Calum Elliot) led to goals for Christos Karipidis and Ruben Palazuelos. Elliot almost snatched an injury-time winner but was denied by Allan McGregor's leaping save.

"If you see that your team plays this shit like we did in the first half, you can just run out of the stadium and say, 'It's Mother's Day tomorrow', and forget about football," Laszlo said. "But we are guys, we are at Ibrox, and we are still in third place. I wanted to kill some people in my dressing room at half-time but if I'd done that I would have had to go to jail and we wouldn't have got a point," he added. "The first half was very poor but the second half was very sexy."

Not sexy at all is the grim reality that Hearts are the third power in the Scottish game right now, yet so bad at times. And still the top two cannot wallop them.

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, said he felt "huge disappointment" to have dropped five points in the last two home SPL games. Such results have left them trailing Celtic, though the champions also dropped points yesterday in drawing 2-2 at Dundee United. Celtic, who lead by three points, needed an 81st-minute volley from Lee Naylor to avoid defeat at Tannadice. Scott McDonald had given Gordon Strachan's side the lead but two goals from Francisco Sandaza at the start of the second half turned the game on its head.

Smith argued Saturday was "one of our better home performances this season", and it was undone "by a bit of slackness". There were indeed a few fluid passages. DaMarcus Beasley was quick and tricky, Pedro Mendes and Steven Davis consistent, and Ferguson had one of his better games. But there were errors, too. Smith has tried to be more expansive since August after so much dull football last season. "Everybody said that was the wrong thing to do," he said. "If they were watching today, they'll see that might be the right thing to do."

Goals: Lafferty (9) 1-0; Ferguson (45) 2-0; Karipidis (64) 2-1; Palazuelos (67) 2-2.

Rangers (4-4-2) McGregor; Whittaker, McCulloch, Dailly, Papac; Davis, Ferguson, Mendes, Beasley (Naismith, 74); Lafferty (Novo, 36), Boyd. Substitutes not used: Alexander (gk), Edu, Miller, Fleck, Wilson.

Hearts (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; Neilson, Karipidis, Zaliukas, Wallace; Cesnauskis (Elliot, h-t), Stewart, Palazuelos, Obua; Aguiar; Nade (Tullberg, 72). Substitutes not used: Ridgers (gk), Jonsson, Mikoliunas, Mrowiec, Templeton.

Referee: C Thomson.

Booked: Rangers Mendes; Hearts Nade, Tullberg, Aguiar.

Man of the match: Elliot.

Attendance: 50,310.