Heart of Midlothian 1-3 Rangers
Saturday 20th April 2019, KO 12:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Rangers at Tynecastle Park in today’s Ladbrokes Premiership lunchtime kick-off.
Two goals in the first half from Jermain Defoe and Ryan Jack, added to a third early in the second half by Nikola Katic, effectively ended the match as a contest before Hearts pulled a goal back through Steven MacLean.
Craig Levein made two changes from the side that earned a William Hill Scottish Cup Final place last week at Hampden, with Aidan Keena and Peter Haring missing out through injury and replaced by Sean Clare and Oliver Bozanic.
However, the Jambos were dealt a blow just prior to kick-off when Clare was deemed unable to play after feeling unwell during the warm-up and was replaced by Craig Wighton, with Clevid Dikamona taking a place on the bench.
Rangers started on the front foot and Daniel Candeias should have done better when the ball fell to him 20 yards out following a corner, but he dragged a shot wide.
Hearts tried to respond and when Jake Mulraney was fouled by James Tavernier, the resulting free-kick was headed over by Christophe Berra, but Rangers would take the lead shortly after.
When Wighton was caught in possession in midfield the away side broke downfield and Glen Kamara slid the ball through to Jermain Defoe who finished past Bobby Zlamal, although the keeper made a valiant effort to block the shot.
Hearts then had two chances in quick succession to reply but failed to take either. Uche Ikpeazu managed to turn Nikola Katic and break into the box, but his shot was blazed over, before he then headed it through to Wighton who could only pull his shot wide.
They would rue those missed chances as another mistake cost them. Bozanic had his pocket picked in midfield and, in a feeling of deja vu, Rangers broke through to score again when Candeias played in Ryan Jack, who slid the ball home.
The away side would add a third moments into the second half when a corner was played short to Tavernier and his dangerous cross was hammered home from close range by Katic.
Ikpeazu came close to reducing the arrears when he met a cross powerfully, but Allan McGregor made an outstanding save to divert the ball to safety.
Rangers almost added a fourth following another swift counter. Candeias won the ball and slid Jack in down the right. His pass across the area fell to Scott Arfield, but the midfielder shot over the bar.
Hearts did get back into the game on 74 minutes, when Mulraney used his pace and trickery to get past Tavernier down the wing and his pinpoint cross was headed over by the substitute Steven MacLean.
Rangers again came close in stoppage time when Tavernier squared the ball to Arfield, but Zlamal made a terrific stop to keep the scoreline down as the game came to a close.
Hearts: Zlamal; Smith (Dikamona, 82'), Souttar, Berra, Burns; Lee (Cochrane, 65'), Bozanic, Djoum; Wighton (MacLean, 61'), Ikpeazu, Mulraney
Subs: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Edwards, Brandon
Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Flanagan; Kamara, Davis (Polster, 85'), Jack; Candeias (Middleton, 71'), Defoe (Lafferty, 82'), Arfield
Subs: Foderingham, Worrall, Halliday, McCrorie
Ref: John Beaton