Rix hails Bednar as Hearts win to maintain charge

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The Independent Football

Hearts kept up their challenge for the league title with a 2-1 win over Livingston at Tynecastle on Saturday and gave their coach, Graham Rix, his first win in charge.

Rudi Skacel scored two more goals in a productive season but Rix was full of praise for Skacel's compatriot Roman Bednar after the Czech striker battled hard up front. The 22-year-old started his first match for the Jambos since having knee surgery after injuring himself against Rangers in September.

Skacel scored twice in the first half to give the home side a comfortable lead, but a strike by Livi midfielder Allan Walker after the break led to a nervous finale for the Edinburgh men.

After two draws in his first two fixtures as manager at Aberdeen and Motherwell, Rix witnessed Bednar add presence and no little skill to the attack alongside young Calum Elliot and the Czech striker was unfortunate not to get his name on the score-sheet on a couple of occasions before he was eventually replaced by Michal Pospisil.

Rix said: "I thought Roman did really well. He was tired at the end and he took a knock but he's OK. That's his first game for two months so it was always going to be difficult for him.

"Young Calum Elliot also put in a great shift for me in attack. I thought we got the victory with a certain amount of style, played some good stuff and created a lot of chances.

"The boys have worked really hard for me in the last three weeks without necessarily getting the rewards so I'm pleased for them."

It was a less satisfying weekend for the Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, whose side slipped to fifth in the league after blowing a two-goal lead at home to Falkirk and drawing 2-2.

McLeish insisted there is no reason why their Champions' League dream should be affected by their poor league form. They host Internazionale tomorrow and a win against the Italians, who have already won Group H, would put Rangers in the knockout stages, a feat never achieved by a Scottish club.

"Think of the games that we have drawn at the weekend and then we have gone into the Champions' League and we've given solid performances," McLeish said.

But he is well aware that his players cannot afford to make the same mistakes they did against Falkirk when the Nerazzurri visit. He added: "To go 2-0 up, and then to lose that lead and draw the game, was something we couldn't have seen.

"We were a wee bit indecisive for the Falkirk goals and that's something which has to be sorted. I spoke to them after the game and we discussed the goals, and why we should surrender that lead when there was a lot of good in the game."

McLeish described Dado Prso and Nacho Novo as "long shots" to make tomorrow's game, as the strike pairrecover from a hamstring injury and broken foot respectively.