RANGERS came from behind to earn a point at Tynecastle in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon.
After falling behind to an early Ryotaro Meshino strike, Alfredo Morelos leveled matters later in the first half but Gers couldn’t find a winner this afternoon.
From the side which thrashed Hamilton 5-0 prior to the international break, out went George Edmundson, Greg Stewart and Jermain Defoe, with their places in the XI taken by Nikola Katic, Joe Aribo and Alfredo Morelos.
Katic, of course, has this week signed a new deal with the club, while Aribo was fresh from international duty with Nigeria where he netted in a 1-1 draw with Brazil.
There was also a place on the bench for Ryan Kent, the winger being passed fit following his recent injury lay-off.
Within two minutes, the home side came so close to the perfect start with Sean Clare’s cross from the right reaching Uche Ikpeazu midway inside the penalty box, with the big striker looping a header off the crossbar.
On six minutes, however, they did indeed hit the front. James Tavernier slipped as he looked to clear an Ikpeazu knock-down, and while Allan McGregor rushed out to get something on the ball, his clearance reached only Ryotaro Meshino on the edge of the area, and he did superbly to lob the ball into the back of the net.
It was a deserved breakthrough for Hearts given how they had dominated the early proceedings, and it took Gers a while afterwards to get some sort of a foothold in the game, with their first real chance being a Scott Arfield shot on the end of a corner being blocked at the front post on 20 minutes.
A clever Tavernier corner then picked out the unmarked Steven Davis almost on the 18-yard line for a diving header, with that effort slipping just wide.
The equaliser arrived, however, on 40 minutes and it again came from a corner. Borna Barisic took this one from the left, and while his superb ball was missed in the middle of the goal by compatriot Nikola Katic, the ball dropped beautifully for Alfredo Morelos at the back post.
It was a simple task for the Colombian to roll the ball into the back of the net for his 15th goal of what is already an incredible season for him.
Gers began the second half on-top, with their first opportunity being another Davis effort, this time a 25-yard volley which was deflected wide.
Ryan Kent then made his comeback on 62 minutes, and with his first involvement, sent a shot from distance just wide of Joel Pereira’s left-hand post.
The game was punctuated by scrappy fouls, though Christophe Berra had a good chance to win the game in stoppage time for Hearts, heading a long throw straight into the arms of Allan McGregor.
The Light Blues now move on to face Porto in the Europa League on Thursday night.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Davis, Aribo, Kamara; Arfield (Stewart, 76), Morelos (Defoe, 81), Ojo (Kent, 62).
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Helander, Halliday, Polster.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN: Pereira, Smith, White (Brandon, 50), Berra, Bozanic, Clare, Mulraney (Irving, 80), Whelan, Ikpeazu, Hickey, Meshino (Maclean, 72).
SUBS NOT USED: Doyle, Dikamona, Keena, Henderson.
REFEREE: Kevin Clancy
ATTENDANCE: 17,573 (3045 away)