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Hearts howler gifts Rangers win

sports Updated: Dec 15, 2007 23:00 IST

AFP
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A late goalkeeping clanger gifted Rangers a 2-1 victory at home to Hearts in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday to close the gap on leaders Celtic.

The Tynecastle team had looked to be holding on for a share of the points after their Lithuanian striker Andrius Velicka had cancelled out Lee McCulloch's first half opener.

However, in the 86th minute Hearts' Lithuanian goalkeeper Eduardas Kurskis somehow fumbled McCulloch's mis-hit shot into his net.

The result meant Rangers moved to within two points of leaders Celtic, before their game at Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Sunday.

Charlie Adam almost put Rangers ahead in the fourth minute.

The midfielder struck a magnificent curling shot with the outside of his left foot from 20 yards which beat Kurskis only to bounce off the top of the crossbar.

But in the 18th minute Rangers did open the scoring.

McCulloch took advantage of hesitation between Robbie Neilson and Portuguese defender Jose Goncalves to race in and stroke the ball into the corner of the net beyond Kurskis.

Although Rangers were slightly in front in terms of possession there were few further chances for either side, in what was a disappointing first half.

In the 55th minute, though, Hearts drew level when Andrew Driver's free-kick into the box found Velicka completely unmarked and he dispatched a fine header beyond Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

The game was now flowing end to end and Kris Boyd almost got on the end of Alan Hutton's cross in the 63rd minute until Hearts' Icelandic midfielder Eggert Jonsson made a finely timed challenge.

At the other end, McGregor was required to tip over Driver's powerful shot in the 66th minute.

Rangers started to gain the upperhand as the clock ticked down and McCulloch's shot on the turn flew narrowly past in the 83rd minute.

But just as it looked as if the Ibrox side would have to settle for a draw they were gifted a second goal.

Hutton's shot from 20 yards deflected into the path of McCulloch but his shot looped into the air and should have been easily saved by Kurskis.

Instead the ball squirmed through the hands of the Hearts goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Barry Ferguson should have made sure of the win in the 90th minute when Jean-Claude Darcheville, who had replaced Boyd, pulled the ball back from the byline but the Rangers captain shot well wide from 10 yards.

In the other games, third placed Motherwell won 3-0 at home to Aberdeen.

All the goals came in the first half with a Ross McCormack double, the first from the penalty spot, either side of a Steven McGarry goal handing Well victory.

Dundee United won 3-0 away to St Mirren, with David Robertson, Noel Hunt and Willo Flood scoring the goals in the second half.

Falkirk scored a late equaliser through Graham Barratt to draw 1-1 away to Hibernian, who had opened the scoring through Clayton Donaldson's first half penalty.

Kilmarnock and bottom of the table Gretna shared the spoils in a six goal thriller at Rugby Park.

Gavin Skelton put the visitors ahead early on but Killie levelled through Australian Danny Invincibile.

Danny Grainger restored Gretna's lead only for Killie to again equalise through Spaniard David Fernandez.

The bottom of the table side from the Scottish Borders took the lead for a third time through Ewan Horwood but Willie Gibson completed the scoring to make it 3-3.