RANGERS suffered a disappointing defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle tonight with the Edinburgh club taking over second spot in the Premiership table from the Light Blues.
As can always be expected when the Gers visit Tynecastle, there was a deafening atmosphere as the game kicked-off, and the opening stages were especially scrappy with plenty of free-kicks punctuating an otherwise lively but uneventful opening 15 minutes.
James Tavernier then decided to take matters into his own hands to try and break the deadlock with a decent 25-yard drive which only just looped over Jack Hamilton’s bar. That, however, was as good as it got for either side in the opening half-hour, with a scream by the home fans for handball outside the box by Wes Foderingham [incidentally, his hands were inside] all that really happened in the opening half hour of the match.
As half time approached, Wes Foderingham had his palms stung by Callum Paterson ‘s 25-yard drive after he cut inside from the right wing before seconds later, he gathered a Bjorn Johnsen header on a Robbie Muirhead free-kick.
Johnsen was to again test Foderingham, this time to the absolute maximum, with a bullet header on a Paterson long throw when the striker peeled clear to the front post and away from Gers central defenders, with Foderingham in full acrobatic mode to tip the effort over the bar.
It then became a hat-trick of chances for Johnsen and a hat-trick of Foderingham saves prior to the interval when the American turned Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan in the area, although his final shot was easily taken this time by the keeper.
The goal did seem as if it was coming unfortunately, and it duly did through Robbie Muirhead. Arnaud Djoum broke clear of the Gers defence but his run was covered by Andy Halliday, with the holding midfielder blocking his eventual shot on goal.
That block, however, deflected back into the path of Paterson who curled a ball into the back post to be met by the incoming Robbie Muirhead on the slide for his first Hearts goal.
It was a hammer-blow for Gers, but in injury time, it was one they almost recovered from with the ball breaking to Harry Forrester inside the area, and while he did well to get a shot away, it was easily gathered by Hamilton.
Into the second half, and seven minutes after the restart, Rangers thought they had got themselves back on level terms.
Kenny Miller was allowed to drive for goal from the edge of the box, with Hamilton only able to parry his effort. His spill dropped for Joe Dodoo who, with his back to goal, brought the ball under control and fired beyond the goalkeeper.
All looked to be well with Dodoo wheeling off to celebrate in front of the jubilant Gers fans, but their joy was short-lived with referee Thomson and his assistant adjudging Harry Forrester to have been stood in an offside position right in front of the goalkeeper, and thus blocking his view.
It was a controversial moment, and the fact both officials initially seemed happy for the goal to stand only added to the understandable ire of Mark Warburton and assistant Davie Weir.
And to rub salt into the wounds of the Gers, Hearts grabbed the second goal of the game on the hour mark much to the delight of their supporters.
Faycal Rherras delivered an excellent ball from the right wing all the way across the face of goal with Muirhead coming in at the back post to finish for his brace.
Rangers were well and truly up against it, and another excellent Foderingham stop, this time low to his left, once again prevented Johnsen netting with a fierce drive.
With seven minutes left on the clock, Gers almost had a goal back in fortuitous circumstances as Arnaud Djoum almost turned a James Tavernier free-kick into his own net, indeed firing over the bar by only a few inches.
In injury time, Joe Garner missed two good opportunities to reduce the arrears – forcing Hamilton into a smart save with a header on a Tavernier corner before firing wide when he turned in front of the home defence after picking up a Halliday free-kick.
It finished 2-0 however, and Rangers must now lift themselves for the visit of Aberdeen at a sold-out Ibrox on Saturday.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Crooks (McKay, 66), Holt; Miller, Dodoo (Garner, 66), Forrester (O’Halloran, 60).
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks, Senderos, Hodson, Waghorn.
HEARTS: Hamilton, Paterson, Rherra, Rossi, Kitchen, Walker, Djoum, Souttar, Cowie (Smith, 84), Johnsen, (Sammon, 90) Muirhead (Buaben, 78)
SUBS NOT USED: Noring, Nowak, Currie, Watt.
REFEREE: Craig Thomson
ATTENDANCE: 16,803 (inc. 1475 Rangers fans)