Rangers 3-0 Heart of Midlothian
Wednesday 3rd April 2019, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Ibrox
Hearts were sunk by Rangers at Ibrox, losing 3-0 on Wednesday night.
First half goals from Jermain Defoe and Connor Goldson set the Gers on their way, with Scott Arfield adding a third early in the second half.
Craig Levein made two changes to the side that beat Aberdeen on Saturday, with
Marcus Godinho coming in to replace Jake Mulraney, while the injured Uche Ikpeazu missed out for Ollie Bozanic.
The hosts came flying out of the traps and had the ball in the back of the net only two minutes in when Joun Souttar was dispossessed and Defoe threaded through, but although he coolly slotted beyond Zdenek Zlamal the offside flag was up.
Rangers kept up the pressure, with Defoe seeing a close-range shot deflected behind before Zlamal turned James Tavernier’s ball across the face of goal behind at his near post.
Zlamal then did well to beat away Tavernier’s rocket shot from distance but the warning signs were ignored when Rangers took the lead after 16 minutes. Scott Afrfield slipped Tavernier through and though Zlamal made a great stop the ball broke to Defoe, who lashed home from six yards.
It was 2-0 five minutes later. Tavernier’s free kick was met inside the box by Goldson, who stooped to guide a header into Zlamal’s bottom left corner.
Hearts began to play their way back into the game and nearly succeeded with a hat-trick of set pieces. Bozanic’s free kick was headed by Berra straight at McGregor, before the Rangers keeper pulled off a stunning save to again deny Berra, tipping his header over the bar from a corner.
Souttar then got in on the action, glancing a header wide of the target after another precision ball from Bozanic.
Joe Worrall passed up a great chance on the stroke of half time, heading Tavernier’s free kick over the bar from six yards.
The game was effectively over two minutes into the restart. Tavernier got down the right to cross for Defoe and although his first time shot was brilliantly saved by Zlamal, Arfield reacted quickest to slam home the rebound.
Ryan Kent and Defoe then proceeded to stab efforts over the bar, with substitute Ross McCrorie narrowly missing the target from outside of the box inbetween.
Hearts had the woodwork to thank for keeping it 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining when tavernier’s free kick was headed back across goal by Berra and back off Eros Grezda, but the ball smacked off Zlamal’s right-hand post and out.
Substitute Olly Lee nearly gave the Jambos a glimmer of hope when he burst into the box following Worrall’s poor clearance, but his prod beyond McGregor fell wide of the target with fellow sub Aidan Keena unable to keep the ball in play.
Moments later Keena hit an outstanding 35-yard shot over the head of McGregor but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Deep into stoppage time, Jamie Brandon skinned two Rangers players and pinged a 25-yard shot that had McGregor beaten, but it just wasn’t to be Hearts’ night as the ball cannoned off the post.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Jack (McCrorie, 60'), Defoe (Lafferty, 77'), Davis, Kent, Flanagan, Kamara, Arfield (Grezda, 67'), Subs: Foderingham, Katic, Candeias, Coulibaly.
Hearts: Zlamal, Shaughnessy, Souttar, Haring, Berra, Bozanic, Clare (Keena, 58'), Djoum (Lee, 69'), Wighton, Brando, Godinho (Burns, 58'). Subs: Doyle, MacLean, Mulraney, Dikamona.
Referee: Kevin Clancy