Rangers saw off 10-man Hearts at a wet Ibrox this afternoon through goals early in each half as the Light Blues comfortably saw off Ian Cathro’s side. Pedro Caixinha made four changes to the team who beat Partick last weekend, thanks to a 94th minute winner, with David Bates, Lee Hodson, Jon Toral and Barrie McKay replacing the injured Danny Wilson and the benched trio of Myles Beerman, Joe Dodoo and Martyn Waghorn.
Rangers took a 6th minute lead through Joe Garner when the ex-Preston striker met Kenny Miller’s enticing cross with a beautiful diving header that left Hearts’ keeper Noring glued to his line. The Gers had burst forward at great pace with Tavernier and the right back’s ball to Miller gave the veteran striker time to pick out Garner to perfection.
Hearts were then dealt a huge blow when Prince Buaben was sent off after 25 minutes for pulling down Josh Windass when he was clean through on goal from Joe Garner’s knock-down. Referee Bobby Madden had no option but to send the Hearts man off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The Light Blues kept up the pressure on their visitors and probably should have had a second goal when Barrie McKay’s crossfield ball picked out Kenny Miller. Miller done well to come inside but took one touch too many and allowed the Hearts defence to clear their lines.
David Bates came close to grabbing his first senior goal for Rangers just before the break when he was left completely unmarked at a corner but Noring scrambled to push his header clear. Just minutes later, Clint Hill almost got his name on the scoresheet from a corner. The 38-year-old rose highest to meet the ball and Noring somehow managed to clear it on the line to keep the score at 1-0 going into the half-time break.
With the second half only five minutes old, Hearts managed to get themselves right back into the game. A quck counter attack saw the Jambos two on one with the Rangers defence and Goncalves coolly slotted the ball beyond Foderingham.
The scoreline was only level for a few minutes however as Barrie McKay scored his second in two games when Noring made a complete mess of punching clear a cross from James Tavernier and the ball fell nicely for the Rangers winger to drill the ball low into the corner of the net and restore the Gers’ lead.
Between the two goals, Pedro Caixinha introduced Joe Dodoo for Josh Windass, who had one of his better games in blue, as Rangers shifted to a 4-4-1-1 with Dodoo and McKay wide and Miller playing off Garner.
Jamie Barjonas was soon brought on for Jason Holt as Caixinha continued to give opportunites to the youngsters to impress before the season ends. The young midfielder made his senior debut last weekend and was given an opportunity to impress in his senior Ibrox debut.
Despite having a bright ten minutes at the beginning of the second half, Hearts struggled to overcome the numbers disadvantage and get themselves back into the game. Rangers controlled most of the game and really should have scored more than they did.
As Rangers continued to push for a third, James Tavernier went close with ten minutes left when he rose highest to meet a cross a few yards out but couldn’t get his header down as it went agonisingly close to sneaking in under the bar.
Martyn Waghorn really should have made it three in injury-time when he was one-on-one with Noring but fired straight at the keeper when it was easier to score but it wasn’t to be and the game finished 2-1 to Rangers.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Hill, Hodson, Toral, Windass, Holt, Miller, McKay, Garner
Subs: Alnwick, Dodoo, Halliday, Barjonas, Beerman, Waghorn, A Wilson
Goals: Garner 6’, McKay 52’
Hearts: Noring, Buaben, Hughes, Djoum, Nicholson, Cowie, Nowak, Johnsen, Smith, Goncalves, Martin
Subs: Hamilton, Tziolis, Kitchen, Alvonitis, Currie, Brandon, Choulay
Goals: Goncalves 50’