Todd Cantwell stakes Rangers claim for Hampden start but dithering Dessers frustrates in Hearts thriller - 3 talking points

Rangers were handed one last dash of Premiership pain as they blew the chance to savour the joy of six against Hearts.

While bitter rivals Celtic were celebrating another league title, Gers were left to wrap up their campaign in Gorgie. And there was more frustration in store in the capital as Kyosuke Tagawa’s last gasp strike denied them a sixth win out of six against Stevie Naismith’s men.

Hearts were first to strike as Top Gun Lawrence Shankland opened the scoring with his 31st Hearts goal of the season. Another half-time telling off got Philippe Clement’s side going as Ross McCausland fired the Light Blues level. Todd Cantwell made up for the blunder that gifted Shankland his goal as he swept him a sublime second before substitute Fabio Silva added a third. But Hearts roared back to snatch a draw thanks to late efforts from Dexter Lembikisa and Tagawa

The Jambos are now looking forward to next season’s European travels. Gers, meanwhile, will have to raise themselves for the Scottish Cup Final and hope they can finally find a way to beat Celtic if they are to avoid another crushing end to the season.

Clement had to issue a half-time rollicking on Wednesday night to get his team going against Dundee. So it was little surprise the Ibrox side came out looking to make a better start this time as they bid to get back in their boss’ good books.

Scott Wright had a goal-bound strike cleared by the head Kyle Rowles while Cyriel Dessers had a unsuccessful penalty claim checked by VAR after Frankie Kent appeared to have a fistful of the Gers frontman’s shirt as they chased a cross into the box.

A blunder by Rowles almost handed Gers the opener 20 minutes as the Aussies was stripped of possession inside his own box by McCausland. The Northern Ireland kid immediately teed up Dessers but the flakey forward surprised no one when he blew another golden opportunity, scuffing his finish straight at Zander Clark. And Shankland soon ensured it would be another half-time hairdryer for Rangers as he showed Dessers how to do it on 33 minutes.

Cantwell was looking for Wright as he laid a lazy pass back into midfield. But when he missed his team-mate it proved to be a fatal mistake as Oda immediately sends Shankland scampering into the box with a superb ball that took half the Gers team out of the equation.

He still had Jack Butland to beat but it was no problem for the Scotland striker as her cooly dinked the Englishman for a classy opener. Gers should have been level within minutes when Cantwell clipped a ball over the top for McCausland. His knockdown into the six-yard box was begging to be tapped home but as ever, Dessers got the finish all wrong as he blazed over.

Whatever Clement said at the interval, it had the desired effect as Rangers roared level seven minutes after the change of ends. McCausland had it all to do as he collected a deflected pass from Mohamed Diomande. But his first lobbed touch took him past one Hearts jersey, a chop onto his left saw him skip another before he swept home a precise left-foot finish that kissed Zander Clark’s right-hand post on its way into the net.

Dessers’ misses continued to mount as his defender Robbie Fraser picked him out in the box. A decent touch set him up but the shot was awful. Substitute Silva and Cantwell had efforts blocked as Gers upped the tempo. And they found themselves in front with 21 minutes as Dessers finally contributed with an assist.

Tavernier’s pass into the Nigerian was stunned into the path Cantwell, who gave Rowles the slip before caressing a delightful finish in off the same post as McCausland’s goal. VAR was on the line again when Kenneth Vargas went down claiming a tug from Dujon Sterling but Don Robertson was again told to play on without a spot-kick.

And Gers wrapped up the win with 10 minutes left as McCausland’s flick was touched by Dowell into the path of Silva, who slammed past Clark.

Hearts sub Lembikisawas foiled by Butland with a stinging strike - but found a way past the Gers keeper from the resulting keeper as he let fly with a copycat strike on 83 minutes. And with the last kick of the ball Tagawa slammed Hearts level as he caught Kent’s flick on with a full blooded volley.

Here's three talking points from Gorgie

Hampden hopes

The trip to Tynecastle was the last chance for the men in blue to stake a claim for a Scottish Cup Final slot. Cyriel Dessers should be mightily relieved that Philippe Clement has little other choice but to start him against Celtic next Saturday given yet another hapless day in front of goal. The misfiring Nigerian had three huge chances to score but fluffed his lines each time.

In contrast, Lawrence Shankland - the man many Gers supporters felt they should have signed back in January - needed just one opening to show how you it as he dinked a delightful opener past Jack Butland. This was the fourth game running that Gers had conceded first but Ross McCausland and Todd Cantwell should feel increasingly confident of their places at the National Stadium and not just on account of their goals.

Both showed the drive and energy that has been sorely lacking in Rangers play at times but they will have to produce it for much longer than then lively second half showing they registered this time.

Kids are alright

With Ridvan Yilmaz not yet fit enough to start and Borna Barisic out, Clement gave Robbie Fraser his big chance as the Ibrox kid started for the first time at left-back.

The 21-year-old got a brief taste of first team action as he made his debut in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Dundee but this was an altogether tougher test against the third best team in the land.

He had a couple of tricky moments dealing with Yutaro Oda but on the whole it was a steady showing from the lad. It’s two years since Gio van Bronckhorst handed a string of Gers youngsters a chance to impress as they warmed up for the Europa League final in Seville with another curtain-closer in Gorgie.

Leon King, Alex Lowry, Adam Devine, Charlie McCann, Tony Weston and Cole McKinnon all saw action that day yet none so far made what you’d call a major breakthrough at top team level.

The challenge now for Fraser is to find a way to stand out like fellow academy graduate and Ross McCausland, whose equaliser was his fourth strike of the season.

Hearts broken again

The beachballs were out again at Tynecastle as the Jambos faithful looked ahead to next season’s European travels.

But while Stevie Naismith’s men have had a campaign to remember finish well ahead of the chasing Premiership pack to be crowned best of the rest, there’s no doubt they’ll be disappointed with their efforts against their Ibrox opponents.

It’s now played six, lost five, drawn one this term having come up short against the Light Blues in the semi-finals of both cups as well as three of their four league clashes.

With a combined score of 16-5, it’s clear Hearts have some way to go to close the gap on the top two, even if they have done better against Celtic with a couple of wins this season.