Garang Kuol rescues point for Hearts late on against Rangers
Substitute Garang Kuol grabbed a dramatic stoppage-time leveller as Hearts fought back to draw 2-2 with Rangers at Ibrox.
The Jambos needed a win for their bid for third place in the cinch Premiership and skipper Lawrence Shankland sensationally opened the scoring after less than a minute.
It took until added time in the first half for Rangers midfielder Todd Cantwell to level.
Attacker Fashion Sakala put Rangers ahead in the 47th minute but in the final seconds of three added minutes Kuol took advantage of some slackness to fire in the equaliser.
Michael Beale’s side are unbeaten in 19 home league games, with 16 victories and three draws, which is a positive.
But with Aberdeen dismissing St Mirren at Pittodrie, Hearts cannot catch the Dons, who will finish best of the rest outside the Old Firm.
Rangers, who will be runners-up behind Celtic, finish their season with a trip to St Mirren on Saturday but already planning is under way for next season.
The Light Blues announced before the game that 25-year-old midfielder Kieran Dowell would be joining the club from Norwich.
The club also asked fans to stay behind to pay tribute to Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent, Scott Arfield and Filip Helander, all of whom will leave in the summer.
McGregor and Morelos started the game but ideas that it would be simply a sentimental night of reflection ended within seconds, following a long throw into the Rangers penalty area from Hearts defender James Hill.
Jambos midfielder Peter Haring helped it on, Rangers skipper James Tavernier tried to clear but only to Shankland whose header hit team-mate Josh Ginnelly and fell back to him to bundle over the line from two yards.
After a long VAR check referee John Beaton pointed to the centre circle and Hearts were officially in front.
Minutes later Haring sent Ginnelly through and his drive after turning defender Leon King was beaten away by McGregor.
It was not the start the home fans expected and the Rangers reaction was hesitant.
Hearts keeper Zander Clark had to deal with King’s long-range drive which deflected off Hill and Nicolas Raskin’s thunderbolt from distance before tipping a Sakala drive on to the post and behind.
Jambos interim boss Steven Naismith, a former Rangers striker, was booked for throwing on a ball to waste time just before the interval but there was time for Cantwell to get the break of the ball off Hill to run through and confidently slot the ball past Clark, with Morelos carrying on a feud with Naismith that had lasted a few minutes.
Two minutes after the restart Sakala took advantage of a slack header by defender Toby Sibbick at the edge of the box to squeeze the ball past Clark with the backtracking Hill unable to keep it out.
In the 64th minute Arfield got a huge cheer from the home fans when he came on as substitute along with Rabbi Matondo, with Glen Kamara and King making way.
Arfield’s curling shot from the edge of the box in the 73rd minute was pushed behind by Clark and the visitors survived the corner, albeit they seemed to be running out of belief.
Arfield had a shot from six yards blocked by Clark before Cantwell fired the rebound wide of the target.
Morelos got his acclaim when he was replaced by Scott Wright and the home side spurned more opportunities as the game fizzled out, only for Kuol, on for Alan Forrest in the 83rd minute, to pounce at the end to spoil the going away party.