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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Rangers kill-off valiant Hearts
Kanchelskis
Andrei Kanchelskis set up the match-winning goal
Hearts 1-2 Rangers

Rangers moved one step closer to claiming the Scottish league title, with a calculated 2-1 victory over third-placed Hearts.

Needing only two more victories to tie up the Premiership, few would now bet against a record 49th title win for Rangers, though Hearts certainly pushed them all the way.

A controversial opener from Rod Wallace and Billy Dodds' second were enough to deflate a spirited challenge from Hearts, who moved ahead early on after Lee Makel's through ball surprised Lorenzo Amoruso.


mcSwegan
Gary McSwegan gave Hearts an early lead
Gary McSwegan was given a clear run at goal and although he hesitated he still had time to get his bearings and loop the ball over the advancing Stefan Klos to make it 1-0.

Rangers were stunned and almost replied within four minutes when Amoruso's powerful free-kick, after Gordan Petric fouled Rod Wallace on the edge of the area, was spilled by Antti Niemi.

The Finn was beaten by the sheer pace of the shot, but to his credit recovered quickly and was able to block Billy Dodds' close-range strike from the rebound to preserve Hearts' advantage.

Hearts were still posing problems, however, and the impressive Lee Makel chipped a cross for Darren Jackson at the far post whose half-volley was deflected wide by Scott Wilson's challenge.

But Rangers were able to level before the break in controversial fashion as Wallace converted from close range when the Hearts players were claiming handball against Tugay.

Barry Ferguson floated the ball forward for the Turkish international who appeared to use an arm to bring it under control before laying it off to Wallace who made no mistake.

The Hearts players surrounded referee Willie Young, but the official pointed to his chest and allowed the effort to stand and within seconds brought the half to an end.

McSwegan miss

McSwegan could have put Hearts ahead shortly after the restart, after Amoruso bungled a back pass inside his area.

The former Dundee United striker caught the ball on the half-turn, but failed to find either the power or accuracy to trouble the visitors' goal.

Rangers hit back, however, forcing Niemi into a fine close save after Wallace had been put through by Reyna.

But Hearts retaliated, again through McSwegan, whose header at the near post looked sure to cross the line, until, Klos somehow managed to get his hand on the ball.

It proved a fascinating contest, with both sides pushing hard for the second goal. And on 65 minutes, it arrived, courtesy of Billy Dodds.

Andrei Kanchelskis made the running to head the ball back to Dodds, who hammered it home from close range.

The final minutes were furious, but neither side were able to improve on the score.

Teams:

Hearts: Niemi, Flogel, Pressley, Petric, Naysmith, Makel, Tomaschek, Severin, Jackson, McSwegan, Adam. Subs: McKenzie, Murray, Fulton, Simpson, Wales.

Rangers: Klos, Reyna, Amoruso, Wilson, Numan, Kanchelskis, Tugay, Van Bronckhorst, Ferguson, Wallace, Dodds. Subs: Charbonnier, Albertz, McCann, Rozental, Malcolm.

Referee: Willie Young (Scotland)

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Links to other Scottish Premier stories are at the foot of the page.