Rangers came from behind to snatch an unexpected victory against Hearts at Ibrox this afternoon and reduce Celtic’s lead at the top of the cinch Premiership table to five points.

With the top flight leaders being held to a 0-0 draw by Hibernian at Easter Road yesterday, their city rivals had an opportunity to draw closer and breathe life into the Scottish title race.

But James Tavernier and his teammates looked out-of-sorts in the wake of their Europa League encounter with Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic on Thursday and fell behind in the fifth minute to a Lawrence Shankland header.

Tavernier struck the post with penalty in added on time at the end of the first half and it looked very much as if the home side were going to end up on the receiving end of an agonising and costly defeat.

But referee John Beaton awarded Rangers a second spot kick with two minutes of regulation time remaining after spotting that Peter Haring had pulled down Connor Goldson on his pitchside monitor. On this occasion, the right back made no mistake.

More drama was to follow in the nine minutes of injury time which Beaton added on when Danilo rose and met a Tavernier cross and nodded in a sharp header that proved to be the winner.

It was a sore one for Steven Naismith’s side. But Philippe Clement’s team deserved the victory and all three points for battling to the death.

Here are five talking points from a thrilling afternoon in Govan.


Clement made just one change to the team which took to the field in Prague three days earlier: Ridvan Yilmaz came back in at left back having missed out on the midweek match because he was omitted from the European squad by Michael Beale and John Souttar dropped to the bench.

Would there be a European hangover for the hosts?  Going with nine of the 10 outfield players who had taken to the field in the Letna Stadium on Thursday was something of a gamble. That said, the manager did not exactly have an abundance of options on the bench. Danilo and Jose Cifuentes are just returning from injury.

It was Turkish internationalist Yilmaz who was at fault for the opener in the fifth minute anyway. He failed to clear a cross from Cochrane to Shankland. It was, to be fair to the wing back, a fine delivery. However, the defender should really have been more switched on.

The £3.5m signing has shown occasional glimpses of what he is capable of since moving to Glasgow last summer. His first team appearances have been restricted by the presence of Borna Barisic. But he has to start doing more to justify his transfer fee.


Hearts captain Shankland ended a barren eight game run without a goal last weekend when he netted in the second half of his side’s 4-1 mauling by Celtic in Gorgie. He immediately vowed that he would build on his strike and was true to his word. He did superbly to nod beyond Jack Butland and put the visitors in front early on.

He also showed he is, despite the accusations which are often aimed in his direction, far more than a penalty box poacher before half-time. He cleared a Connor Goldson header which took a deflection off of Cyriel Dessers off the Hearts goal line and then supplied his fellow forward Kenneth Vargas with a scoring opportunity in the final third.

The capital club’s skipper was left out of the Scotland squad by national manager Steve Clarke for the double header against Spain and France earlier this month. If the 28-year-old, who took his tally for the 2023/24 campaign to seven, maintains his current form he has a chance of earning a recall for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Norway


Rangers it seemed, just like their city rivals Celtic at Easter Road 24 hours earlier, could find no way through their opponents. Abdallah Sima squared across the face of goal. Nobody was there to turn it in. Goldson got an attempt on target. Shankland saved the day. John Lundstram unleashed a powerful shot. Frankie Kent threw his body in front of it.

Then Todd Cantwell won a penalty when he was tripped by Toby Sibbick. Tavernier, normally so clinical from 12 yards out, though struck the inside of the left post with his effort and nobody in a light blue jersey turned in the rebound. It was looking to be one of those days for the hosts. Until suddenly it wasn't.

A huge cheer went up around the ground when Danilo, still wearing a protective face mask, replaced Dessers at the start of the second half. The Brazilian has hardly fared much better than his club mate since arriving in this country. Still, the home supporters clearly felt that he was a better bet for a goal.

They were proved right. The substitute produced the goods when it mattered most. It will do his confidence the world of good and help him to put his difficult start at Rangers firmly behind him.

READ MORE: Furious Steven Naismith rages over Rangers VAR penalty call


Rangers midfielder Nicolas Raskin was stretchered off injured with his head in his hands in the second half – sparking fears that he could be out for some time to come.

The Belgian midfielder, who had opened his account for Rangers with a long-range strike against Hibs eight days earlier, fell to the ground after hitting the side-netting. It was not his best performance, but he will badly missed if he is sidelined long term.


These two teams will do battle in the Viaplay Cup semi-final at Hampden next weekend and if that encounter is half as entertaining as this one it will be an absolute cracker.

Hearts will not lack motivation. They will, too, have a belief they can, with more supporters roaring them on, get the triumph. Rangers will have to perform far better to avoid another last four exit.