Football

Smith hails battling Rangers

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Rangers manager Walter Smith praised the battling spirit of his players after they emerged from a gruelling week with their 100% record in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League intact.

The Scottish champions battled from behind to snatch a late win against Hearts, having defeated Bursaspor in the Champions League midweek and staged a similar comeback at Aberdeen last Sunday. Rudi Skacel provided Hearts with a first half opener, before Kyle Lafferty came off the bench to level late on and Steven Naismith - who netted the only goal against the Turks - bagged the winner deep into injury time.

"It was a big week for everyone having the three games in six days," said Smith. "We've had two away games at Pittodrie and Tynecastle, which are not the easiest places for any team. I'm delighted we managed to get the win, albeit a late one. The players did extremely well and they got what they deserved in the end. We controlled most of the game territorially and had by far the most attempts at goal."

He added: "A team doesn't win the championship without an element of pride, they are not going to sit back and accept defeat and there was no acceptance of that.

"I felt we dictated most of the play, we had most of the possession and most of the attempts on goal. Hearts defended very well for the first hour of the game and we had to work hard to break them down."

Naismith's winner came in the fourth minute of injury time and Hearts boss Jim Jefferies was unhappy with both the amount of time added on and the free-kick which led to the goal.

He said: "I've got no complaints about the efforts of my players. We got the goal and it was so frustrating that their first goal came from a wall that didn't do its job properly.

"I was a little bit aggrieved at a couple of things, we didn't think there should have been five minutes and then the free-kick that was given that allowed Rangers to break for their second goal, both players' legs were at the same height and we were the ones pulled up for it.

"I feel gutted for the players because I didn't think they deserved to lose."

Meanwhile, Hearts could face an investigation after missiles were thrown on to the pitch after Naismith's strike. Assistant referee Willie Conquer is believed to have been struck by a coin, while several other items, including lighters, were thrown and given to match delegate Willie McDougall.

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Topics:
Kyle Lafferty
European News
Rudi Skacel
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League

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