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Lee McCulloch says sorry but 10-man Rangers hold on

Rangers 2 - Hearts 1

By Ronnie Esplin

Stuart McCall revealed captain Lee McCulloch apologised to him and the Rangers players after being sent off against runaway Scottish Championship winners Hearts at Ibrox.

Goals from striker Kenny Miller and the returning midfielder Haris Vuckic had the home side two ahead and cruising before McCulloch was shown a straight red card by referee Bobby Madden for fouling striker Osman Sow.

It left the 10-man Govan side to fight a rearguard battle in the second half but, although Jambos striker Genero Zeefuik reduced the deficit in the 83rd minute, Rangers held on to move into second place in the league, three points ahead of Hibernian with a game in hand over the Leith club.

The Gers boss said: "Believe it or not I haven't seen it again and I didn't see it live - all I was interested in was Zeefuik going through the middle - but I spoke to Bobby coming off and he said he caught him with his elbow.

"Jig (McCulloch) came in after the game and apologised to me and the team so obviously it must have merited a red card."

The former Rangers midfielder paid tribute to Gers supporters in the crowd of 40,521 who willed their team on to a third successive win when they were down to 10 men.

He said: "In the second half, that was the first time for a long, long time, since I was playing, that I got goosebumps out there.

"The fans deserved that (win) but I thought the players deserved their applause coming off the park because you need both together to be a success.

"It was pleasing in a lot of ways. We set out with a game plan to stop Hearts playing because they are a good side, no doubt about that.

"Obviously it was two terrific goals, but I thought the tempo and passing in the first half was outstanding.

"I thought the second half was just about guts, desire, being a good team-mate, so it was a hard shift but a nervy finish."

Man of the match Nicky Law also noted the improving relationship between players and supporters.

He said: "The crowd just lifted everyone and the atmosphere was as good as it has been since I signed at the club and Hearts fans played their part in that as well.

"Probably for the first time the fans have been right behind us and united as one, which it hasn't been for a while and that was great to see."

• Livingston lifted the Petrofac Training Cup after a convincing 4-0 win over Alloa Athletic.

The side sitting bottom of the Scottish Championship took the lead through a clinical Scott Pittman finish. Callum Fordyce and Jordan White, twice, added further goals after the break.

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