Little's big influence saves rusty Rangers
Rangers 1 Heart of Midlothian 1
Sunday 24 January 2010
The sound was one of relief, a release of tension and angst that might even have been cathartic. When Andrew Little, a 20-year-old substitute, slid the ball over the goalline in the 90th minute, he rescued Rangers from the kind of regret that would have felt distressing, and prompted a visceral response from the home crowd.
Rangers are now 10 points ahead of Celtic at the top of the Premier League, but they had to be jolted into life here. Having lacked the wherewithal to penetrate Hearts, they found themselves a goal down after 75 minutes when Scott Robinson was first to react after Allan McGregor had parried away Lee Wallace's shot.
"A couple of lapses of concentration set us back," said the Rangers manager, Walter Smith. "We had to show good spirit to get back into the game."
Until the opening goal, the game had been cloaked in restraint. Even the sense of insurrection among the supporters was muted. A protest comprising 12 banners, complaining against the influence of Lloyds, Rangers' bankers, on the club's finances, had been expected, but only three slogans were on show, mostly lost amid the Ibrox crowd.
There was a stuffiness to Hearts, although they might have seen some early enterprise rewarded had Christian Nade not snatched at a shot from 18 yards, sending the ball over the bar. The effort was memorable for its rarity, as the visitors were mostly intent on subduing the home side.
Rangers were earnest without being adroit enough to diminish their opponents' resolve. Steven Davis almost altered the shape of the game with a free-kick from 20 yards that was artfully placed towards the bottom corner, only for Marian Kello to turn the ball wide.
Rangers continued to struggle in the second half. When Nade was sent off for receiving a second yellow card in four minutes, for kicking the ball away, it was the home side who were reduced to disarray, and Hearts who took the initiative to score.
So at the final whistle it was Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager, who was left to rue what might have been.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United teased by Monaco after claims they could have signed 'Luis Suarez of Neymar' instead or £58m Anthony Martial
Former Manchester United star Karel Poborsky goes full hipster
Manchester United hit back at Real Madrid by claiming they let David De Gea 'slip through their fingers into the back of the net'
Premier League Power Rankings: Eden Hazard and Harry Kane continue to slip but Wayne Rooney has to perform against rivals
Serie B introduces 'green cards' to promote good behaviour, fair play and sportsmanship
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees