Saturday, May 16, 2009

16 May 1998 - The French Connection, Scottish Football Style

On 16 May 1998, Heart of Midlothian defeated Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final by the score of 2-1 before a crowd of almost 50,000 at Celtic Park, Glasgow.

The match got off to a quick - and controversial - start, as Hearts midfielder and captain Steve Fulton was impeded on his way to the goal by Rangers midfielder Ian Ferguson. The foul appeared to occur just outside the box, but the referee awarded a penalty kick to Hearts. Midfielder Colin Cameron smashed the spot-kick home past Rangers keeper Andy Goram, and Hearts were up 1-0 within 80 seconds.

Still 1-0 at the half, Rangers manager Walter Smith went on the offensive, replacing his Norwegian defender Ståle Stensaas with forward Ally McCoist at the start of the second half. It was Hearts who scored again, however, as French keeper Gilles Rousset launched a long ball down the field. Rangers' Italian back Lorenzo Amoruso misplayed it, then Rousset's fellow Frenchman, Hearts forward Stéphane Adam, stole it away and fired a powerful shot into the net, putting the Edinburgh side up 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Rangers continued to pressure the Jambos' goal and finally got through in the 81st minute as their Italian midfielder Rino Gattuso passed the ball neatly to McCoist, who scored from 18 yards out.

The remaining minutes were tense for all. With two minutes left, McCoist went down in the box after a foul by Hearts defender David Weir. Rangers clamored for a penalty, but the referee put the ball just outside the box and the ensuing free-kick went wide. Hearts continued to hold on through four minutes of extra time, earning the 2-1 victory.

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