Hearts today took on Rangers in front of the biggest Jambos home league attendance in over 30 years, as almost 33,000 supporters packed into BT Murrayfield, but it was to be a disappointing affair as the visitors came from behind to win the match.
Craig Levein made three changes from the side that faced Hibs in Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby, with youngsters Euan Henderson and Jamie Brandon dropping out, along with Connor Randall. They were replaced by the returning Isma Goncalves, Harry Cochrane and Lewis Moore, making his first start since the opening day of the season.
The visitors lined up with former Jambos in the shape of Jason Holt and Danny Wilson, the latter captaining the club to the Scottish Championship title in 2014/15. Veteran striker Kenny Miller was restored to the starting line-up following the departure of manager Pedro Caixinha.
Rangers started the brighter of the two sides, with Josh Windass trying his luck on two occasions from distance, but neither effort caused Jon McLaughlin any trouble in the Hearts goals. McLaughlin then had to look sharp to stop Miller from getting in after he ran on to a through ball.
Hearts then took the lead in stunning fashion with their first shot on goal. Isma won a free kick 25 yards from goal, and Kyle Lafferty bent a sensational effort into the top corner from the set piece. Ross Callahan nearly doubled the lead a minute later but Wes Foderingham produced a top save.
Jamie Walker was next to threaten, after winning the ball from James Tavernier on the right flank, he played it inside to Lewis Moore, who drove at the away defence, played it back to Walker, whose shot went wide.
Rangers levelled on 42 minutes when Alfredo Morelos held off Christophe Berra, slid it through for Miller whose shot deflected and looped over McLaughlin with their first effort on target of the match. Cochrane almost put Hearts back in front immediately, when his stinging left foot drive was palmed over by Foderingham.
The Jambos were dealt an early second half blow when, after chasing down a counter attack, Walker pulled up with a hamstring injury. The forward had to be withdrawn in place of David Milinkovic.
Rangers took the lead on 65 minutes when a Tavernier cross was headed in by Miller, who had snuck between Souttar and Berra in the penalty area, and the experienced forward made no mistake from close range.
They extended their lead on 73 minutes when a ball from the back caught out Rafal Grzelak, Josh Windass took advantage, cut inside and fired low past McLaughlin. Just prior to this, Cochrane and Moore had been withdrawn for Krystian Nowak and Cole Stockton.
Isma did his best to try and reduce the arrears, but his effort from the left wing after he had cut inside lacked accuracy and failed to trouble Foderingham. Morelos then tested McLaughlin on the break, but the keeper was equal to his powerful strike.
Hearts: McLaughlin, M.Smith, Berra, Souttar, Grzelak, Moore (Stockton 69'), Cochrane (Nowak 69'), Callachan, Walker (Milinkovic 52'), Isma, Lafferty. Subs: Hamilton, Brandon, McDonald, Henderson.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, McCrorie, Wilson, John, Jack, Holt, Candeias, Windass (Hardie, 89'), Miller (Barjonas, 84'), Morelos (Herrera, 87'). Subs: Kelly, Hodson, Bates, Kranjcar.
Referee: Craig Thomson