Robbie Neilson questions Rangers' antics and stoppage-time decision after Hearts lose out at Ibrox

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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson criticised Rangers for time-wasting during the closing stages at Ibrox and complained that only three minutes were added on for stoppages.

Malik Tillman’s second-half goal separated the sides and, as Hearts pressed for an equaliser, referee John Beaton added less time on to the regulation 90 than Neilson expected. “I was unhappy with the three minutes at the end,” he admitted. “When we are holding on to a 1-0 lead you get seven or eight minutes. When you come here it’s three minutes.

“There was a lot of time-wasting towards the end of the game by Rangers, which is something I have not seen here before but the referee decided he would just look at the substitutions. I thought towards the end of the game we were in the ascendancy, Rangers were time-wasting, I was hoping for a bit more.”

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Hearts were composed in defence but didn’t manage a shot on target during the game. Kye Rowles returned from injury to start his first game since August and was the visitors best player. “You saw the quality of Kye coming in. He was outstanding for a guy who has not played for two months. He was probably one of the best players on the park,” said Neilson

“If we get him back, Stephen Kingsley back, Craig Halkett back, we will start to shore up that defensive unit. The first goal had a huge influence on the game and if you don't take your clear-cut moments you don't take anything from the game. It was a disappointing outcome but the performance was good.”

Asked whether his team could have created more in the final third, Neilson said: “When you come here it’s always tough. They are going to have a lot of possession, they are a good team. We had to try and nullify them first and foremost, which I thought we did. For long periods of the game we didn’t have that final moment, that final pass, that we have had in previous games.”

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst was clearly relieved to take three points and thus ease some pressure from the Ibrox stands. Fans have called for him to be removed recently and Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park left the Glasgow club seven points behind Premiership leaders Celtic. They could not afford another stumble against Hearts. After a mediocre first 45 minutes, they forced themselves ahead and managed to see out the game for a vital victory.

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“We had a lot of energy and threat going forward but didn't create any big moments in the first half. You have to be patient,” said Van Bronckhorst.”We did much better in the second half, especially in the final third. We knew we had to make runs and the goal from Malik was a good example.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Hearts manager Robbie Neilson shake hands pre-match at Ibrox.Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Hearts manager Robbie Neilson shake hands pre-match at Ibrox.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Hearts manager Robbie Neilson shake hands pre-match at Ibrox.

“We were attacking in the first half but always had the threat of [Josh] Ginnelly and [Lawrence] Shankland to think about. Overall I'm pleased to get the three points. Of course it's a big three points after last weekend. I think that's all that matters at the moment. I always put the club and the team first but, of course, I'm happy for myself.”