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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 May, 2003, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Rangers edge in front
Ronald de Boer was the key player for Rangers
Hearts 0-2 Rangers

Rangers moved back to the top of the Premier League with a hard-earned win over battling Hearts at Tynecastle.

Second-half goals from Ronald de Boer and Peter Lovenkrands put Rangers level on points with Celtic and on the same goal difference but the Ibrox side have scored one more than their Glasgow rivals.

Rangers host Dunfermline next Sunday, while Celtic go to Kilmarnock on what promises to be a thrilling final day of the season.

Rangers looked anxious until they broke the deadlock against a determined Hearts side and Shota Arveladze was guilty of missing a penalty a few minutes before de Boer struck.

Hearts boss Craig Levein opted to field his strongest available team, despite the Edinburgh club being assured of a Uefa Cup place, barring a sequence of freak results.

Top scorer Mark de Vries returned for the home side and Steven Boyack and Andy Webster replaced suspended duo Kevin McKenna and Phil Stamp, while Rangers made one change - starting with Arveladze rather than Lovenkrands.

Rangers almost snatched the lead after just three minutes when a loose ball broke to Mikel Arteta at the edge of the Hearts penalty area but the Spaniard's shot clipped the top of the crossbar.


Hearts were competing well and snapping into tackles all over the park, although there were a few scary moments for the home fans with a couple of woeful back passes putting keeper Tepi Moilanen under pressure.

In the seventh minute a long range free-kick from Scott Severin warmed the fingers of Rangers goalie Stefan Klos.

As the game progressed Rangers enjoyed lengthy periods of possession but found it difficult to find space behind the well-organised Hearts defence.

Levein's side were finding it hard to get out of their own half but Boyack and Robbie Neilson both managed shots from distance, although Klos could afford to watch the efforts sail wide.

However, Hearts finished the first half strongly and Klos had to be at his best in the 42nd minute to tip away a low angled shot from de Vries, after the big Dutchman had bundled his way through two challenges in the penalty area.

Four minutes into the second period de Vries broke free of the Rangers defence once more but shot straight at Klos from 18 yards.

Arveladze missed a second half penalty
Rangers threw men forward in search of a goal and with the introduction of Lovenkrands for Arteta at the interval, adopted a 4-2-4 formation.

In the 62nd minute Rangers were gifted a penalty when de Vries handled from a corner when jostling with Lorenzo Amoruso.

Rangers skipper Barry Ferguson, who missed two spot-kicks against Dundee a fortnight ago, handed the duty to Arveladze but the Georgian saw Moilanen push his effort on to the post before clearing with his feet.

Despair turned to joy for the visiting supporters just two minutes later when de Boer was allowed room at the front post to head home a cross from Arveladze.

Rangers substitute Steven Thompson pounced on a long ball that Moilanen ventured out of his area for and missed, but Stephen Pressley managed to get back and make a saving tackle in the box.

Rangers extended their lead after 72 minutes when Lovenkrands swept home a great cut back from de Boer.

The Ibrox side found their stride in the closing stages and Thompson and Arveladze both went close to adding to the goals tally.

Hearts: Moilanen, Neilson, Pressley (Simmons 74), Webster, Maybury, Boyack, MacFarlane, Severin, Valois (Kirk 77), Weir (McKenna 64), de Vries.
Subs Not Used: McKenzie, Mahe.

Rangers: Klos, Ricksen, Moore, Amoruso, Numan, Hughes, Ferguson, Arteta (Lovenkrands 45), de Boer, Mols (Thompson 63), Arveladze.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Malcolm, Caniggia.

Att: 15,632 Ref: H Dallas

Hearts boss Craig Levein
"I can't really cricticise the players, they played well"

Rangers boss Alex McLeish
"It's a wonderful end to the season"

Who will win the championship on Sunday?
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