Rangers 1-1 Hearts

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland Sport

Ally McCoist's Rangers reign got off to a stuttering start as Hearts spoiled the Scottish champions' flag day by securing a deserved draw at Ibrox.

David Obua headed Hearts into a 16th-minute lead following a Danny Grainger corner and the Ugandan missed another chance to stretch the lead.

Rangers improved after the break and Steven Naismith rose to flick home their reply after 58 minutes.

Allan McGregor's superb save prevented Obua winning an enthralling game.

Rangers manager McCoist had handed a debut to former Almeria midfielder Juan Manuel Ortiz, but fellow new signing Lee Wallace had to settle for a place on the bench against his former club.

Wallace's replacement at left-back, Grainger, made his first competitive appearance for Hearts along with fellow summer acquisitions John Sutton and Mehdi Taouil.

Steven Naismith (left) equalises
Naismith (left) headed the equaliser for Rangers against Hearts

But most eyes were set on new Rangers owner Craig Whyte as he unfurled the championship flag in warm sunshine - and the early action was just as bright.

Hearts' hopes appeared to suffer a blow when Scotland defender Andy Webster limped off after only eight minutes against his former club, to be replaced with Adrian Mrowiec.

However, it was the visitors who took the lead when Obua shrugged off half-hearted challenges from Steven Whittaker and Lee McCulloch to head in from 12 yards from a Grainger corner.

Rangers tried to respond immediately, but it was Hearts who were the more inventive and incisive outfit against reigning champions whose central defence was rocking in the absence of suspended veteran captain David Weir.

Templeton was proving a particular handful and forced his way between two markers before his toe-poke from 15 yards was blocked clear off the body of advancing goalkeeper McGregor.

The Hearts winger next turned architect with a lovely through ball that sent Obua racing clear into the penalty box, but the utility man fired high into the side netting under pressure from McGregor.

However, Rangers started the second half more positively, with goalkeeper Marian Kello diving low to superbly palm away a low 16-yard drive from Steven Davis.

Naismith squandered a superb chance when he lashed well over from just inside the box after Jelavic cleverly dummied a low Ortiz cross.

The Spaniard's next cross found Naismith at the front post, but the Scotland striker's head flick drifted over.

It was third time lucky for Naismith when he rose unchallenged to meet a curling Sasa Papac cross to glance his header in off the far post from 10 yards.

Rangers were now the dominant force, but a 16-yard Obua snap shot from a Sutton knock down forced McGregor to athletically turn the ball over the crossbar.

Papac ought to have given Rangers victory in the closing minutes when he fired straight at Kello after a one-two with Naismith.

Top Stories