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By ESPN Staff
Feb 27, 2008

Rangers hammer Hearts to stay clear of Celtic

GLASGOW, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Jean-Claude Darcheville and Nacho Novo scored two goals apiece as Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers hammered Hearts 4-0 on Wednesday to stay four points clear of champions Celtic.

Celtic were 2-1 winners over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, while Motherwell, a distant third, were held 1-1 at Aberdeen.

Darcheville opened the scoring in the 25th minute when the French striker ran onto a neat, flicked pass from skipper Barry Ferguson to whip an angled shot past keeper Steve Banks.

He made it 2-0 just a minute from the interval, scuffing in a two-metre effort from a header across goal by Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar following a Ferguson corner.

Spanish striker Novo, who replaced Darcheville at the break, guided home the third from close range in the 54th minute after Charlie Adam swept the ball in from the left side of the area.

Novo completed the scoring with a back-heeled flick from seven metres following another low Adam cross on 70 minutes.

Rangers now have 65 points from 26 games, with Celtic second on 61 after their home win.

Australian striker Scott McDonald flicked home their opener just before the interval and Greek forward Georgios Samaras sent an eight-metre header into the top left before Romania's Marius Niculae pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 70th minute.