In Pictures: Hearts 1 Rangers 2
Walter Smith insists he had every faith in Kris Boyd to snatch victory for Rangers as they staged an incredible comeback against Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
The odds were stacked against the Scottish champions when Kevin Thomson was shown a straight red card after just 14 minutes and David Witteveen went on to fire Hearts into a half-time lead.
Even when Lee McCulloch hauled Rangers back into the game, a point from the clash looked the best they could hope for until Boyd came off the bench with just two minutes to go.
Boyd had been rated doubtful for the visit to Tynecastle after suffering a sickness bug earlier in the week, but Smith knew the moment the striker stepped up for the pressure kick he would seal a dramatic victory within seconds of being on the park.
He said: “Kenny Miller had taken a bad knock on his arm in the first half and had to play most of the game up there on his own.
“Boyd then came on and had a good touch for Steven Naismith. When you get a penalty, you are always confident that he’ll score it.
“It was a good finish from him and then we had to hold on a little bit at the end, which you would expect to do away from home and down to 10 men.”
Thomson had made his first start since suffering a serious knee injury back in December, but his comeback was wrecked when he was shown a straight red card by referee Craig Thomson for a challenge on Ian Black.
Earlier in the game, Suso Santana had escaped with a caution for a foul on Miller and Smith believes the punishment handed out to Thomson was harsh.
He said: “I thought he gave the opportunity to the referee to order him off. Maybe where he was it looked worse but I didn't think there was any great contact with the player.
“From the dug-out area you could see that and the player carried on playing for the rest of the game so I don't think there was great contact.”
Rangers have not enjoyed the best of records at Tynecastle over the last couple of seasons, and Smith was pleased to see them come out on top this time despite another poor start.
“We tried to play a little too much in the first five minutes or so and never really got started. But I'm obviously delighted to get the three points.”