Rangers swansong tainted by Newcastle loanee: narky duo do not go quietly, Morelos v Naismith, Hearts miss out on third

It wasn’t so much a case of no show without Punch as no finale without fracas as some of Rangers’ old-stagers vacated it.

This 2-2 draw with Hearts - the product of Newcastle loanee Garang Koul smacking in with the last kick of the match – meant Hearts shared in the goodbyes the home crowd were making to some major performers with the result forcing them to say ta-ta to their hopes of third place in the Premiership.

However, despite such late drama, it was impossible not to be caught up more in the farewells of starters Alfredo Morelos and Allan McGregor and, from the bench, Scott Arfield. Their departures, along with the injured Ryan Kent and Filip Helander, had been confirmed on the eve of the club’s final home encounter.

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Fittingly, Morelos and McGregor certainty did not go quietly. In the nark-stakes, if not game impact. It was just like old times as the keeper – at 40 and with 500 games across two spells a humungus figure for the club – received an early yellow card from referee John Beaton for giving a mouthful in the direction of… well who could tell.

Garang Kuol salvages a point for Hearts against Rangers at Ibrox.Garang Kuol salvages a point for Hearts against Rangers at Ibrox.
Garang Kuol salvages a point for Hearts against Rangers at Ibrox.

Morelos raged against the dying of the night by, eh, simply raging, a characteristic of his six years almost as enduring plundering that snared him 124 goals. An almighty set-to with Steven Naismith was almost comical. The Hearts manager was booked for kicking a ball on to the pitch to prevent a quick throw-in approaching the interval, shortly before Morelos was then involved as Rangers’ equalised after going behind only 50 seconds in. The Colombian looked to play a ball across and a slip from James Hill as he seemed to have it under control allowed Todd Cantwell to race forward and produce a composed finish. Morelos’ reaction? He raced to the halfway line to goad Naismith. All manner of pointing and gesturing from other members of the Hearts coaching team then resulting in a police presence suddenly visible in that area.

The Rangers support showered their departees with affection in song-serendades in a post-match walk round the pitch. All a far cry from the cheery mood over the end of era being punctured by a start in error. A horribly-defective defensive header from James Tavernier sparked the messiest of goalmouth scrambles that ended with Lawrence Shankland poking in. A VAR delay for potential offside then ensued, before Beaton signalled operative of the technology Willie Collum had declared the goal legitimate. Hearts exhibited all the early aggression but soon Zander Clark was being forced into a series of fine stops.

And just as calamitous defending then cost Hearts their lead in added time of the first period so it was replicated straight after the break when Toby Sibbick’s attempted header to safety plopped to Fashion Sakala, who feasted on the gift. Rangers should have wrapped up the victory thereafter but missed opportunities. And for all the celebrations, those players making their exits will surely feel that way about their stints that – last season’s Europa League final appearance notwithstanding – yielded only one league and one Scottish Cup as tangible rewards.

For Hearts, the best reward of this turbulent season will be fourth place after Aberdeen’s win over St Mirren clinched third place for the Dons, although they will need to avoid defeat against fifth-placed Hibs at Tynecastle on Saturday to secure that spot.



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