RANGERS lost for just the second time in the Scottish Premiership this season, going down to Hearts at Tynecastle.
The Light Blues looked on-course for yet another victory when Ryan Kent netted a super goal just two minutes into the second half, but Steven Naismith equalised and Liam Boyce netted a winner with six minutes left.
From the side which defeated St Mirren at Ibrox in midweek, boss Steven Gerrard named an unchanged line-up.
And, that XI were subjected to the standard, high-energy start that can be expected from Hearts at Tynecastle before things evened themselves out and it became a real battle in the middle of the park from both sides to try and win supremacy.
The Jambos’ new signing Boyce had the first effort of note on 11 minutes, shooting low to Allan McGregor’s right from 25-yards, but it was a simple save for the Ibrox stopper.
Then with their first attack under a minute later, Rangers should have been ahead. Ryan Jack picked-up in midfield, drove forward and played a super ball into the path of Kent, who had drifted over to the right.
The angle was against him slightly as he closed in on goalkeeper Joel Pereira, and he fired over the bar with his eventual effort from around eight yards-out.
Gers played a good offside trap to deny Boyce when Steven Naismith slipped him through, while a super Kent flick had Joe Aribo running in on goal, but pressure from Aidan White meant he put his strike wide as he entered the area.
Naismith headed a Lewis Moore corner wide, while a slip from Hearts almost let Jermain Defoe in, but a combination of Craig Halkett and Sean Clare denied him.
Half-time saw the introduction of Scott Arfield and Matt Polster in place of the previously-booked pairing of Ryan Jack and Jon Flanagan.
And, seemingly with the words of boss Gerrard still ringing in their ears, Rangers scored a goal of real beauty within two minutes of the restart.
Counter-attacking from a Hearts attack where Defoe did superbly to win it from Craig Halkett, Ryan Kent burst forward, with support soon following. The ball appeared to be on for Aribo to Kent’s right, but instead, he picked out Borna Barisic to his left.
Barisic, as he so often does, delivered a super-ball, this time along the ground, and picked out Aribo who had come into the area.
He had his back to goal and couldn’t turn, but he provided a perfect lay-off for Kent, and from 15-yards out slightly to the left of goal, he slewed a stunning drive into the far top-corner to spark pandemonium among the Rangers support in the Roseburn Stand behind the goal.
It really was Gers at their best, and they could have made it 2-0 with a Niko Katic header going just wide, and a Kent strike from 25-yards being deflected over the bar.
However, on 57 minutes, Hearts drew level. Gers, looking to play out, had the ball turned over by Halkett who got it onto Boyce in the right channel.
He cut the ball back for Steven Naismith who was just inside the area, and he curled the ball beyond the reach of McGregor.
Super football from Polster and Aribo on the right ended with Aribo bending a shot just wide as Gers looked to find a way back into the match, but it soon reverted back to the midfield scrap that much of the first-half had been.
Connor Goldson saved Gers with a block on the line from a Conor Washington strike, while sub Sheyi Ojo played-in Defoe at the other end, but as he drifted right of goal his shot ended up going into the stand.
The game had come alive again going into the last 10 minutes, and on 84 minutes, Liam Boyce put Hearts ahead.
A loose clearance presented the ball to the striker on the edge of the area, and with the aid of a deflection, the ball ended up in the back of the net.
That proved to be the winner, and while Gers committed men forward in the latter stages of the match, they couldn’t test Pereira.
RANGERS: McGregor; Flanagan (Polster, 45), Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Davis, Jack (Arfield, 45), Kamara (Ojo, 74); Aribo, Defoe, Kent.
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Halliday, Jones, Edmundson.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN: Pereira, White (Bozanic, 45), Souttar, Clare, Naismith, Halkett, Moore (Wahsington, 59), Boyce, Sibbick (Ikpeazu, 75), Irving, Henderson.
SUBS NOT USED: Zlamal, Walker, Meshino, Avdijaj.
REFEREE: Steven McLean
ATTENDANCE: 18,539 (3245)