RANGERS were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Hearts at Ibrox Stadium this afternoon.
The Light Blues certainly had the better chances to collect all three points from the match, but it was the visitors from Edinburgh who leave Govan the happier of the two sides.
After a cagey start, the game came to life in the ninth minute, with Kenny miller having a golden chance. Good work on the left wing from Lee Wallace, Graham Dorrans and Josh Windass ended with the Gers skipper sending in a cross for Miller, with his goal-bound shot diverted away at the last minute by Christophe Berra.
At the other end, centre-half John Souttar strode into the Rangers half and unleashed an incredible 40-yard drive which cannoned off the underside of the bar and broke out to Kyle Lafferty on the edge of the box, with an effort from him curling round the outside of Wes Foderingham’s left-hand post.
There was very little flow to the match however, with the next real goalscoring chance not coming until the half-hour mark. Josh Windass, stationed on the edge of the ‘D’, took a pass to feet from Dorrans and turned immediately, only for Souttar to come from nowhere with a terrific last-ditch challenge to prevent the Englishman from scoring.
Bruno Alves then came close to adding to the one goal he’s netted in his Rangers career so far, meeting a Daniel Candeias corner at the back post only for a plethora of Hearts bodies on the line to scoop the ball to safety.
The best chance of the half then fell to Miller four minutes from the interval as a Wallace cross broke to him on the penalty spot only for Jack Hamilton to deny him with a terrific save with his left boot.
The second half began in much the same fashion, with plenty of Rangers play and possession, but not much in the way of opportunities in front of goal.
In order to try and spark his team, Pedro Caixinha replaced Josh Windass with Niko Kranjcar in the 52nd minute, the big Croatian having something of a free role, and it was he who had Gers best chance of the half on 73 minutes.
Daniel Candieas did well to intercept the ball deep in the Hearts half, and he squared to Kranjcar whose effort from the edge of the box was easily claimed by Hamilton.
Seconds later, and another substitute, Ryan Hardie, got his heel to an Alfredo Morelos cross, with that opportunity sliding only narrowly by the post.
Hardie then had another great chance to score on 80 minutes following a superb counter attack from Rangers. Wes Foderingham bowled the ball long for Daniel Candeias, with the Portuguese winger doing well to turn his man and sprint forward.
His ball in reached Hardie at the back post, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner by Berra. And, from that corner, Candeias took it short for James Tavernier, with his ball in finding Bruno Alves at the back stick.
He nodded across goal, with the ball met by Morelos only for Hearts again to get bodies in the way to clear to continue the frustration for the home side.
And that frustration was almost added to, as for the first time in the half, Hearts created a chance with Kyle Lafferty connecting to a Don Cowie free-kick at the back post only for the former Rangers man to poke the ball wide when under no pressure.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Cardoso, Alves, Wallace; Candeias, Dorrans, Jack, Windass (Kranjcar, 52); Miller (Hardie 72), Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Wilson, Hodson, Rossiter, Pena,.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN: Hamilton, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Walker (Nowak, 63), Lafferty, Djoum, Cowie, Randall (Buaben, 62), Brandon (Grzelak, 76), Goncalves.
SUBS: Hughes, Stockton, Zanatta, Noring.
REFEREE: Willie Collum
ATTENDANCE: 49, 677.