Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Jelavic on hand to sicken Hearts

Rangers' Nikica Jelavic celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh

Hearts 0 Rangers 2: Rangers manager Ally McCoist paid tribute to the spirit shown by Nikica Jelavic for shrugging off an illness to help secure a 2-0 win over Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The striker was rated doubtful for the clash at Tynecastle after suffering from a bug over the weekend but travelled with the rest of the squad to Edinburgh and started among the substitutes.

The Croatian came off the bench and netted Rangers' second of the day within three minutes to put the seal on the win after Steven Naismith opened the scoring in the first half.

McCoist said: “He did really well because, on Friday and Saturday morning, to be honest I didn't think he had any chance of appearing at all.

“But he has great spirit and he wanted to come and give himself an opportunity.

“He came to the hotel last night and we locked him away and he got up in the morning and he felt that he could give us something from the bench. And did he not just do that.”

Rangers have now won 13 consecutive SPL games on the road and have yet to concede a league goal on their travels this season — the kind of form McCoist believes is crucial to winning championships.

He said: “You've got to do that to win titles. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

“You have to show a great level of consistency away from home. When you look at our league, there are some tough places to go.

“To win a league campaign anywhere, your away form has to be really solid.

“At this early stage in the season ours is more than okay.

“They just take a pride in their defending.

“I wouldn't want to tempt fate but they are doing extremely well at this moment in time. We've got a good blend of experience and determination — all the qualities you need to defend.

“To win anything you've got to have a solid defence and we feel we've got that.

“Just as importantly we've got players who can nick us a goal at the other end so at this moment in time it's going all right.”

Reflecting on the action at Tynecastle, the Rangers boss added: “I thought we were very, very professional and very solid.

“When you come to a place like Tynecastle and get anything they make you earn it and we certainly earned it.

“We defended really well at times and we switched off at times and maybe rode our luck a little bit and the goalkeeper made a couple of good saves.

“But I thought we created enough chances as well and we scored two good goals. It was a really good day's work.”

The victory allowed Rangers to return to winning ways after being held to a last-gasp draw by St Mirren last week, a result which denied the Scottish champions a 10th SPL win in a row.

McCoist said: “It was very important [to get the win] but I wasn't overly disappointed with last week.

“You get these things throughout a league campaign.

“We lost a late goal against a team who played well and we didn't play particularly well.

“It's important that you look at the game and analyse it and don't start pressing unnecessary panic buttons that shouldn't be getting pressed.

“That wasn't the case and it was never going to be the case. Today, we did a lot better.”

Hearts have imposed a media ban ahead of manager Paulo Sergio's Scottish Football Association disciplinary hearing on November 3, meaning the Jambos boss was unavailable to give his viewpoint on their defeat after the game.

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