In what was an emotional afternoon for the gaffer, two strikes from the phenomenal Kris Boyd ensured that the Gers’ fans stayed well beyond the referee’s final whistle to give Eck the send off he rightly deserved.

Hearts started the match with a weakened team but McLeish made one change from the side that beat Hibs on Tuesday night with Peter Lovenkrands making his first start since April 8.

The Dane replaced Thomas Buffel and Lee Robinson was also handed a place on the bench in place of Stefan Klos.

The travelling Hearts supporters, as expected, were in celebratory mood prior to kick-off and their side were close to taking the lead after only 30 seconds when Mirsad Beslija showed his pace on the right before feeding the ball to Skacel on the opposite side of the pitch.

The midfielder darted to the byline before producing a powerful low cross that flew across the face of goal.

In what was a frantic opening couple of minutes, Marvin Andrews tried his luck from 12 yards after Banks flapped at a Burke cross but Petras was able block the Trinidadian’s powerful effort.

Dado Prso then had a great chance to give his side a lead seven minutes later but the Croatian’s volley from close-range could only hit the side netting.

Gavin Rae, making his fourth start of the season, was in the heart of midfield alongside Brahim Hemdani and the Scot showed his commitment on 16 minutes with a lung bursting run from the halfway line which almost resulted in another goalscoring opportunity.

The Jambos, however, were clearly confident on coming to Ibrox and spoiling Alex McLeish’s plans for as farewell celebration and Ronnie Waterreus had to be sharp to palm away a powerful header from Michal Pospisal on 20 minutes.

Referee Ian Brines, a late replacement for Kenny Clark, did not have many tough decisions in the opening 25 minutes but he enraged the home support when he awarded free-kick to Rangers on the 18-yard line even although Dado Prso was clear through on goal if he had played the advantage.

The resulting free-kick was cleared from the danger area and a slip from Gavin Rae allowed the Jambos to counterattack. Skacel fed the ball to Pospisil his swerving left-foot narrowly missed the target.

In what was proving to be a pulsating first-half, Prso then produced a typical marauding run down the right before finding Boyd at the front post but the striker could not get the ball past Banks who turned his effort around the post.

Boyd, however, made no mistake from the resulting corner as Lovenkrands swung in a perfect cross and Scotland’s top scorer, who was unmarked, nodded the ball home from 6 yards for his 19th goal in a Light Blue jersey.

Rangers had the ball in the net before the interval when Lovenkrands again whipped in a great cross but Boyd was adjudged to have been holding a defender before Andrews headed the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle.

Snooker World Champion Graeme Dott, a life-long Rangers fan, made a special guest appearance at half-time with the World Championship trophy and clearly lapped up the standing ovation he received from the Ibrox faithful. 

Hearts, who had three players booked in the opening 45 minutes, came out fighting at the start of the second period with each player out to impress Tynecastle boss Valdas Ivanauskas ahead of next weekend’s Scottish Cup final.

Pospisal again tried his luck from long-range before Prso had two attempts on goal but could not find the back of the net.

Alex McLeish made his first change three minutes into the restart with Alex Rae replacing Stevie Smith. The 36-year-old moved to right back with Ian Murray switching to the left side of defence.

The visitors continued to push forward with purpose and Waterreus again had to be on his toes to make an excellent near post save from Beslija.

The Dutchman then came to his side rescue once again before the hour mark when Pospisil played a neat header into the path of Skacel but Waterreus was there to make another fine stop.

Lovenkrands could, and probably should, have doubled his side’s advantage minutes later when Prso played a great pass to the Dane but the hitman could only hit the side netting.

With the game now flowing freely from end to end, Skacel then missed another sitter when Waterreus made a stunning low stop to deny substitute Johnston before the Hearts’ stand-in skipper missed the rebound from only six yards. 

This proved to be a costly miss as Boyd went on to score his 20th goal in 21 Rangers appearances on 73 minutes.

Gavin Rae played a terrific one-two with Prso before finding Boyd who finished with typical ease beyond Banks.

Only time will tell if Sotirios Kyrgiakos will leave the club this summer but there is no doubt he should have made it three minutes later when a Burke cross was flicked on by Prso and the big defender, who was in acres of space, headed the ball over the bar.

McLeish gave substitute goalie Lee Robinson a run-out for the final 12 minutes and the Murray Park starlet looked confident when he came out to claim a corner after replacing the excellent Waterreus.

The Gers’ supporters will have been delighted to see their side win on Eck’s farewell game and the standing ovation at the end was fitting for a man who brought seven trophies to Ibrox in the space of four-and-a-half years.

RANGERS: Waterreus (Robinson 78); Murray, Andrews, Kyrgiakos, Smith (A. Rae 48); Burke, Hemdani, G.Rae, Prso; Prso Lovenkrands (Buffel 67) 

Subs Not Used: Malcolm, Novo, Lennon, Ashikodi

Bookings: Boyd 29

HEARTS: Banks; Barassa, Berra, Petras, Wallace; Beslija (Mikoliunas 81), Brellier (Johnston 62), Aguiar, Skacel; Elliot, Pospisal (Makela 74)

Subs Not Used: Gordon, Neilson, Camazolla, Cesnauskis, 

Bookings: Petras 27, Barassa 32, Skacel 40, Pospisal 68, Makela 84

Attendance: 49,792

Man of the Match: Dado Prso

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