Rangers 1 Hearts 0
An own goal off the head of Hearts midfielder Scott Severin enabled Rangers to extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to six points on a day when Celtic's trip to Motherwell had already fallen foul of the weather.
- Related Content
The unfortunate moment for the Scotland international, who had passed a late fitness test, proved significant on a day when the home side dominated but once again failed to turn that advantage into goals.
The recent history between the two sides had seen results go exclusively Rangers' way, with three victories accrued without the cost of a single goal.
But those figures had not been the whole picture as whatever Hearts had lacked in creative play they had compensated with muscular challenges.
Hearts were far more dangerous here than they had been before but it was more of the same as far as the rough stuff was concerned.
In the 4-0 win at Tynecastle Alan Maybury and Neil McCann had indulged in such fierce touchline combat that it was clear one would be ejected by the end of the game.
In the end it had been Maybury who walked and the CIS Insurance Cup semi-final between the two sides earlier in the month, in which Hearts had been deeply disappointing when it came to creative football, Stephane Mahe and Fernando Ricksen had added another dimension to the McCann-Maybury bout on the other flank.
McCann was absent here after being injured on Scotland duty in midweek in a game that Maybury had watched from the Republic of Ireland bench.
This time Maybury - the ultimate Dublin rarity as he was a childhood Rangers fan - tussled with Claudio Caniggia, who time after time went rolling on the Ibrox turf in apparent agony.
Not all of those challenges had been deemed illegal by referee John Underhill who seemed to have heeded Craig Levein's plea for officials to turn a deaf ear to the home crowd at games against Old Firm sides.
The home fans were upset in the 24th minute when the ball ended up in the Hearts goal from a Ronald de Boer tap-in.
Barry Ferguson had sent Caniggia through and the veteran had played the ball past on-coming goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen before he went down in the box from Maybury's challenge.
Initially it appeared to be a choice of whether a penalty would be awarded or advantage played but instead an assistant's raised flag prompted Underhill to penalise de Boer for offside.
But there was no escape for Hearts in the 41st minute after Maybury had fouled Caniggia on the left.
Mikel Arteta fired in the free-kick and the ball seemed to skid past Moilanen off the top of Severin's head.
Lorenzo Amoruso had been inches away from repeating his free-kick feat at Dunfermline last week but this time his low shot whistled just wide of the post.
But Hearts had also attacked their hosts, showing arguably more endeavour in the first 10 minutes than they had in the whole 90 earlier in the month.
Stefan Klos had not had much to do but when Jean-Louis Valois curled in a shot from 25 yards it needed a fine tip over to deny him.
Gary Wales had shown early promise and Mark de Vries had forced Klos into a near post save before Rangers got a grip on the game, with Caniggia heading across goal and the recalled Kevin Muscat failing to hit the target from a
Ricksen lay back before the break.
Soon after the restart Michael Mols, who had been recalled at Shota Arveladze's expense, saw a shot deflected just wide after Arthur Numan had sprung the offside trap.
Andy Webster was cautioned for hauling Mols down as soon as the Dutchman threatened to go past him and Maybury soon followed him into the book for having a go at an assistant for the award of a free-kick.
Peter Lovenkrands replaced Caniggia on the left just after the hour and got the better of Maybury down the left, with Mahe having to hoof the cross clear after the goalkeeper failed to claim.
Ferguson might have done better than to fire over in front of goal when Muscat crossed from the right, although he did have to swivel significantly to get the touch.
Arveladze came on for Mols and fired weakly wide with only the goalkeeper to beat and when de Boer volleyed goalwards minutes later he was denied a clincher by a fine parry from the Finn.
An almighty scramble in the Rangers box in stoppage time saw the ball fall for de Vries but his shot was blocked.
Rangers Klos, Muscat, Malcolm, Amoruso, Numan, Ricksen,
Ferguson, Arteta, Caniggia (Lovenkrands 62),
Mols (Arveladze 69), de Boer.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Eggen, Hughes.
Goals: Severin 41 og.
Hearts Moilanen, Maybury, Pressley, Webster, Mahe,
Boyack (Simmons 73), Severin, MacFarlane (McKenna 72),
Valois (Kirk 85), de Vries, Wales.
Subs Not Used: Gordon, McCann.
Booked: Mahe, de Vries, Pressley, MacFarlane, Webster, Maybury.
Ref: J Underhill (Scotland).