Furious Hearts manager Craig Levein launched an incredible attack on referee Bobby Madden as he insisted Rangers had a “12th man” as they secured the win which takes them to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The Tynecastle boss criticised at the official’s “abysmal” performance as the visitors were allowed to escape Gorgie with three points thanks to goals from Connor Goldson and Alfredo Morelos.
Hearts had taken the lead through a Gareth McAuley own goal but were unable to respond even when Gers were reduced to 10 men after Scott Arfield got himself sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Jambos keeper Zdenek Zlamal.
But Levein felt Steven Gerrard’s side should also have seen Morelos walk, insisting the Colombian frontman had overstepped the line during a fiesty running battle with home skipper Christophe Berra.
In an astonishing rant, the former Scotland boss said: “I read a quote from Neil Lennon a few weeks ago when they went to Celtic Park and he said that ‘we were playing against 12 men’. That’s how I feel today.
“How Morelos stays on the park and gets through that without a booking I’ll never know. Some of the decisions today were abysmal.
“Austin (MacPhee) phoned (Scottish Football Association head of referees) John Fleming a while ago after we had three goals against us that were offside because the linesman made mistakes.
“John Fleming suggested that we held the line on the 18-yard line to make it easier for his officials. So we did that today and they still f*****g got it wrong!
“Actually, it’s 13 we are playing against. And the good thing is that Neil Lennon didn’t get any punishment – that’s good to know. It’s really good news that there won’t be any punishment.”
Asked if he had sought out an explanation from Madden after the game, Levein added: “What’s the point, unless he’s got a time machine and go back to fix his mistakes?
“Morelos had loads of fouls where he doesn’t even watch the ball. He just jumps into the centre-backs. There was one where he has smashed Christophe and Bobby said to one of our players: ‘It’s alright, that’s just Morelos – he’s a bit silly sometimes’. Well maybe I’ll tell our players to be silly because you don’t get booked for it! It was an abysmal performance.”
Gerrard was understandably delighted with his team as they came through another stern examination of their character to leapfrog Celtic and grab top spot.
Arfield’s sending off was the seventh red card Rangers have received this season – although Morelos’ sending off at Aberdeen was later rescinded – and the Ibrox manager joked the practice is paying off for his side.
“It’s a very important result,” said the former Liverpool captain, who let out a roar of delight at full-time.
“It’s our first big win against a rival away from home and we’ll take belief from it.
“The emotion at the end comes from finishing the game with 10 men again. Scott’s late and he knows he is. I’ve no complaints, but he isn’t a dirty player and we aren’t a dirty team even though we keep getting red cards.
“Scott sees the keeper has it in one hand and goes for it and by the time he gets there he has it in two hands, so he is late. You get your punishment, but he has been outstanding for us and he doesn’t have a violent bone in his body.
“We’re getting used to playing with 10 men and we’re quite good at it. We’ve had enough rehearsals.”