Rangers 2 Hearts 0
Of all people, Miko should know better. The man who was nationally chastised after his dive that earned Lithuania a penalty against Scotland in a World Cup qualifier last year, was again caught in the act at Ibrox today, only a matter of minutes after taking to the field.
He went on to receive a second yellow card within minutes of his first for a late tackle on Rangers’ Kenny Miller. A genuine attempt for the ball was made, nonetheless, a player on a booking should not be diving into tackles the way he did, unless needs must. The challenge took place in the centre circle and his side were in no immediate danger at the time.
Before the penalty incident involving his national team, Miko was never a favourite amongst the Hearts support, and since then he has been every other team’s favourite boo-boy. This actually worked in his favour and endeared him to the Hearts support as they leapt to the defence of one of their own.
When this season began, it was a fresh start for everyone involved at Tynecastle and some, including myself, thought that this could be the season we finally get the best out of him. This may still materialise but he done himself no favours with his antics today.
We were not causing Rangers, who by now were happy to sit back and hit us on the break, many problems with eleven men on the field and the red card meant the hard working Jamie Mole was sacrificed, leaving the unfit Christian Nade up front on his own.
There was one moment of panic amongst the home support as the ball fell to Andy Driver around the penalty spot. His volley was heading towards the target when Madjid Bougherra blocked the ball with his arm. As we all know by now, getting a penalty against Rangers at Ibrox is as likely as a democratic Zimbabwe and true to form referee Stuart Dougall waved away the protests.
Of course Rangers went up the other end and the first sniff they had at a penalty it was awarded. Kris Boyd stepped up and scored to give his side a 2-0 injury time lead. To be fair it probably was a foul, even though Lee Wallace got a slight touch on the ball somewhere in between brining down Miller in the box; although I would like to see the incident again.
It’s easy to blame officials when things don’t go for you and if Dougall had pointed to the spot, rather than pretending he didn’t see it, and the subsequent spot kick was converted, then it would have been a draw Hearts probably didn’t deserve. I said before the match that we lacked quality in attack and I think it showed over the 90 minutes. Kingston and Driver were poor and, where he looked reasonably comfotable last week, Karipidis looked lost in central midfield.
We were up against a poor Rangers team today. Granted, they were lifted by the signing of Pedro Mendes and by the promising start Kyle Lafferty – who scored the opening goal of the game – has made to his Rangers career. This is a side on which the pressure would have mounted had we taken the game to them early on; but we didn’t.
Not to worry, however, because the way the league table works here we will probably get two more opportunities to take on Rangers and the officials at Ibrox this season.