Rangers staged a remarkable comeback to beat Hearts 2-1 at Ibrox with two goals in the dying minutes of the game. The hosts had missed a penalty and trailed for most of the match until James Tavernier and Danilo turned the game around in injury time.
How Hearts stunned Rangers early on
Hearts took the lead in the fifth minute with a superb header from captain Lawrence Shankland, who met a cross from Alex Cochrane on the left wing. It was the first goal conceded by Rangers under new manager Philippe Clement, who had kept four clean sheets in his previous games.
The visitors defended well and frustrated Rangers, who struggled to create clear chances. Hearts also threatened on the counter-attack, with Kenneth Vargas missing a good opportunity to double their lead.
Rangers were awarded a penalty just before half-time when Toby Sibbick tripped Todd Cantwell in the box, but Tavernier hit the post with his spot-kick and Hearts survived.
How Rangers fought back in the second half
Clement made a change at half-time, bringing on Brazilian striker Danilo for Cyriel Dessers, who had a goal-line clearance denied by Shankland in the first half. Rangers increased their pressure and had several shots from distance, but none of them troubled Zander Clark in the Hearts goal.
Hearts suffered a blow when midfielder Nicolas Raskin had to be stretchered off after injuring himself while shooting. He was replaced by Scott Wright, who added some pace and energy to the Rangers attack.
The hosts thought they had equalized in the 77th minute when Sam Lammers headed in a cross from Ridvan Yilmaz, but the goal was ruled out for offside by VAR.
How VAR and Tavernier changed the game
Rangers were given another lifeline in the 88th minute when VAR intervened again, this time in their favour. Referee John Beaton was advised to check his monitor for a possible foul by Peter Haring on Connor Goldson at a corner. After reviewing the incident, Beaton awarded a second penalty to Rangers.
Tavernier stepped up again and this time made no mistake, smashing the ball past Clark to level the score. It was his 10th goal of the season and his fifth from the spot.
But Rangers were not satisfied with a draw and went for the winner. In the third minute of added time, Tavernier delivered a cross from the right that found Danilo at the back post. The Brazilian nodded in his first goal for the club and sparked wild celebrations at Ibrox.
How Rangers cut the gap at the top
The dramatic victory meant that Rangers reduced the gap to league leaders Celtic to five points, with a game in hand. Celtic had dropped two points at Hibernian on Saturday, giving Rangers a chance to close in on them.
Rangers also extended their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions under Clement, who took over from Steven Gerrard in November. The former Belgium coach has improved Rangers’ defensive record and also guided them to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Hearts, meanwhile, remained fourth in the table, seven points behind third-placed Aberdeen. They have lost three of their last four games and have not won at Ibrox since 2012.
What next for both teams?
Rangers will face another tough test on Wednesday when they travel to Aberdeen for their game in hand. A win there would put them within two points of Celtic, who host Dundee United on Thursday.
Hearts will hope to bounce back from their heartbreaking defeat when they host St Johnstone on Wednesday. They will also look forward to their Scottish League Cup semi-final against Hibernian on January 29.