Rangers 1-1 Hearts: Laszlo is furious after Hearts concede last-minute goal

ONE man cut a forlorn figure poised on the edge of the visiting technical area.

Players from both sides sauntered past and headed down the tunnel looking reasonably satisfied. All around, supporters exited Ibrox Stadium content with the 1-1 scoreline. Hearts fans would have chomped the hand off anyone offering such a scenario before kick-off, while Rangers followers were happy at salvaging a point with a stoppage-time equaliser. Yet Csaba Laszlo was furious.

He prowled back and forth trackside cursing to himself, probably in German or Hungarian. He launched a water bottle on to the pitch with his right foot, his features etched with angst. The Hearts manager found losing a late goal difficult to digest. Whereas most coaches would be content to draw 1-1 at Ibrox with ten men, Laszlo's aspirations lie considerably higher.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He had just seen his team reduced to ten men – through Christian Nade's senseless dismissal – score the opening goal and then lose one, all inside the final 16 minutes.

Late concessions in Glasgow are nothing new to the Hungarian but recently his team appeared to master the art of closing out a narrow victory. That they failed to do likewise on Saturday was no disgrace, but Laszlo felt deprived at full-time.

He praised his players' industry and discipline and was clearly elated that 17-year-old Scott Robinson had struck his first senior goal for Hearts.

However, his frustration centred around Andrew Little's maiden strike in the Rangers first team in the 90th minute.

"I was very loud in the dressing room," said Laszlo.

"I must compliment my team for this game but I feel we lost two points when it wasn't necessary.

"If you have more concentration, maybe more experience, you don't lose.

"Rangers had just one chance all game and it was created from our stupidity. (Ismael] Bouzid moved out from defence and there was the counter attack situation but it was only one chance. For 90 minutes we did what was necessary and I compliment the team tactically. They had discipline. At half-time we talked about the problems we had and in which positions Rangers were dangerous and we stopped this.

"We did not lose, we got one point. For this team it is positive that we had a lot of young people on the field. It was a positive afternoon for Scott Robinson and he got his Christmas gift like Gordon Smith against Hibs."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At a crucial period of the game 16 minutes from time, with Rangers lacking genuine craft to break the Hearts resistance, Nade's impetuousness struck and might have sabotaged Hearts' efforts altogether. The Frenchman had been cautioned unfairly on 69 minutes for barging into David Weir during an aerial challenge. There appeared little contact but referee Calum Murray produced a yellow card to the striker's bemusement. Five minutes later, after being flagged offside, he thumped the ball into the Broomloan Road Stand and yellow became red.

"I am very angry that a player did this," said Laszlo. "It is a yellow card and you had one before. My opinion (of the first booking] is that the Rangers goalkeeper and defender came against each other and Christian was not involved. I don't think it was necessary to show a yellow card but he had it and he must accept it.

"After, you cannot do this. If Nade makes a foul to avoid a Rangers goal it is okay but for this you can't say it was an accident. I don't like to defend Christian, it must be clear that he weakened his team."

Surprisingly, Laszlo said he has no intention of fining Nade, who is now suspended for Wednesday's league encounter with Aberdeen at Tynecastle. "For me, the biggest punishment is that I don't have him in the squad," continued the manager. "I am not a manager who just punishes players with money. You must go a little bit deeper. You can't say for this you pay so much. You must go inside and they must know this is not correct so they learn from it."

The gutsy reaction of Hearts' players to Nade's dismissal could only be admired. They had ridden their luck to a degree on 64 minutes when the ineffective Kyle Lafferty shot tamely at Marian Kello when one-on-one with the Slovakian. This angered the fickle Rangers support, who have long since lost patience with the Northern Irishman, but they might have sensed a chance to capitalise following Nade's red card.

Hearts were expected to shut up shop, but instead took the game to their opponents and scored for their gumption. Lee Wallace, a standout at left-back, strode forward to collect David Obua's pass and dispatch a dangerous low drive which Allan McGregor could not hold. Robinson's speed of reaction took him past the dithering Sasa Papac to slide his first top-team goal into an empty net.

"It's my first goal for the club so I'm delighted to score at Ibrox," said the teenager. "There doesn't seem to be much money to spend so the gaffer is giving the youngsters a chance. Gordon Smith got his goal against Hibs and now I've got mine. I need to keep working hard in training to keep my place, though.

"Rangers at Ibrox are always dangerous. I hoped the goal would be enough but it wasn't. I saw Lee breaking through and I thought 'I'm going to take a gamble here'. I thought McGregor might palm it out, he did and it fell to me. When Christian went off I went out to the right and we never had anyone up front. I just took a gamble and followed up on Lee's shot. Thankfully it worked. We're on a right good run now. It would have been good to get three points but a draw is good enough."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Laszlo, of course, would disagree. Walter Smith, his Rangers counterpart, was thankful for a point in the context of a game in which his charges flattered to deceive despite enjoying the majority of possession.

"I felt we controlled most of the game but Hearts are an extremely difficult side to play against," observed Smith. "They are very well organised, especially in defence, and it's hard to create opportunities against them. It was important to get the first goal, we had a few opportunities to do that and didn't do it. Then there were some lapses in concentration at the back and we fell behind. We were pleased to get a goal late on but frustrated we didn't take our chances before then.

"Hearts' basis is strong and you need everyone as sharp as they can be. We don't drop many points at home so we were looking to win the game. But in the context of the game we are happy."