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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Rangers beat Hearts to go top
Claudio Caniggia celebrates after opening the scoring
Claudio Caniggia scored Rangers' opening goal
Rangers 2-0 Heart of Midlothian

Rangers went to the top of the Scottish Premierleague for the first time since August 2000 but had to battle all the way for victory against a confident Hearts outfit.

Goals from Claudio Caniggia and Shota Arveladze either side of the break were enough to allow Rangers to leapfrog Celtic and go a point ahead.

But it could have been a different story had Mark de Vries taken the kind of chances he was burying on his way to being named SPL player of the month.

Celtic's defeat away to Motherwell on Tuesday had given Rangers their chance.

But visitors Hearts brought the top flight's only other unbeaten record with them to Ibrox, with Craig Levein's team the current best of the rest in third place.

The last time Rangers had been handed the same opportunity - 18 August 2001 - they had blown it by only drawing with Hearts' own neighbours, Hibernian.

Shota Arveladze and Claudio Caniggia celebrate at Ibrox
Rangers' two goalscorers celebrate
Alex McLeish named the same 11 who blew away Dunfermline Athletic 6-0 in their last outing.

And they set about pressurising Hearts early on with some clever passing movements.

Goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie had to rely on a Steven Pressley clearance after blocking a drive from Arveladze then did well to hold a fierce drive from Barry Ferguson.

Rangers ought to have gone ahead after 12 minutes when a break involving Caniggia and Arveladze ended with de Boer blazing over from just six yards out.

Rangers nearly paid for that a minute later, when a cross from Jean-Louis Valois found Phil Stamp and the English midfielder's unchallenged header struck the top of the crossbar.

Then Kevin McKenna headed wide with the Rangers goal at his mercy after rising to meet a Valois corner.

They paid for that miss when Rangers took the lead after 41 minutes.

De Boer crossed from the right and Caniggia, the hat-trick hero at Dunfermline, was on the end of it, getting across his marker and sending a diving header past McKenzie.

De Vries had a chance to bring Hearts level early in the second half but took the ball too wide of goalkeeper Stefan Klos before firing in his shot.

Rangers struck the crossbar at the other end following a Craig Moore header at a corner.

De Vries again squandered a headed chance under pressure from Moore at the other end before Rangers finally killed the game.

A comedy of errors in the Hearts defence allowed Arveladze to slide the ball home.


Rangers: Klos, Muscat, Malcolm, Moore, Numan (Ross 68), Ricksen, Ferguson, Arteta, Caniggia (Konterman 83), de Boer (Dodds 51), Arveladze. Subs Not Used: McGregor, Latapy.

Booked: Moore, Ricksen.

Goals: Caniggia 41, Arveladze 79.

Hearts: McKenzie, Maybury, Pressley, McKenna, McMullan, Boyack (Twaddle 77), Severin, Stamp, Valois, de Vries, Kirk (Wales 77). Subs Not Used: Gordon, Webster, Janczyk.

Booked: Stamp.

Attendance: 48,581

Referee: M McCurry.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Roddy Forsyth
"Hearts were undone by a header from Caniggia"
Hearts head coach Craig Levein
"We started like rabbits caught in the headlights"
The SPL season gets under way

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