Hearts broken again by rampant Rangers

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The Independent Online
Rangers have reached the halfway stage in their Bell's Scottish League championship charge, and are still leading from the front. Saturday's impressive 4-1 victory at Hearts kept Walter Smith's side 14 points clear of Celtic, who have three games in hand after their 1-0 win over Raith Rovers.

A 3-0 defeat for Aberdeen at Kilmarnock surely means only their Glasgow arch rivals can threaten Rangers. The Tynecastle scoreline could have been a repeat of the 5-1 victory against Hearts in the Scottish Cup final in May if Jorg Albertz had been successful with two penalty kicks instead of one. David Robertson put Rangers in front before Hearts, who had four players sent off at Ibrox earlier in the season, had Neil Pointon dismissed just before half-time.

John Robertson pulled one back after Brian Laudrup had scored his 11th goal of the season and Gilles Rousset saved from the spot after Albertz had scored a first penalty. But Paul Gascoigne wrapped up the scoring with his 14th goal of the season to make Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, a happy man.

"I thought it was our best performance at Tynecastle for quite a few years," Smith said. "The enthusiasm of Robertson, Alan McLaren and Trevor Steven after coming back from injury is great to see. It is like having three new players."

Alex Totten, sacked by Kilmarnock three weeks ago, has returned to management at Falkirk, who dismissed Eamonn Bannon on Friday after being fined pounds 25,000 for fielding an ineligible player. Kilmarnock have been given permission to approach the Airdrie manager, Alex McDonald.