Rangers 2 Hearts 0: Magic Mendes quells Rangers rebellion
The mutiny failed to materialise here yesterday, but only after a heavy bounty was paid out.
Pedro Mendes displayed the sort of quality you expect from a £3 million recruit and disarmed the simmering anger of Rangers supporters. The new signing from Portsmouth received a standing ovation from 48,000 new fans at the end after Walter Smith's team secured their second successive win in the SPL campaign.
Kyle Lafferty's finish divided the teams until Kris Boyd's stoppage time penalty exposed 10-man Hearts after Saulius Mikoliunas's sending-off.
The backdrop to this encounter was one of civil unrest. Supporters who were angered by the £9m sale of Carlos Cuellar to Aston Villa in midweek – which came hard on the heels of the exit from Europe – staged a muted demonstration outside the main entrance before the game and unfurled a banner inside the ground which read, "We deserve better."
The opening half-hour saw fierce pressing from both sides, and if Hearts made few chances to trouble Allan McGregor, their organisation also limited the hosts to meagre scraps. Lee McCulloch produced a save from Jamie MacDonald and then the debutant Hearts goalkeeper kept out a lob from Kris Boyd.
Had McGregor not been swift to spot the threat of Laryea Kingston in the 35th minute, after a neat exchange of passes with Michael Stewart, then Rangers might have been in trouble but two minutes later Lafferty put the Ibrox side ahead. A free-kick from debutant Mendes came to nothing but the clearance was pounced on by Madjid Bougherra who eluded Lee Wallace before clipping a cross into the path of Lafferty, which was swept past MacDonald by the Northern Irishman from 14 yards.
Mendes displayed some delightful passing after the break and also came close with a teasing cross but the contest died when Mikoliunas's folly saw Hearts reduced to 10 men. The Lithuanian's eight minutes on the pitch were enough to earn a yellow card for diving and another for a tackle on Kenny Miller.
His absence crippled the visitors whose Christophe Berra felt his volley was handled by Bougherra. But the appeal was rejected and Rangers received a penalty when Miller was felled, Boyd coolly adding the finish.