Match Reports

Match Report: Hearts 0-2 Rangers

12th December 2021

Hearts were defeated at home for the first time this season as Rangers took all three points in the cinch Premiership. 

Early goals from Alfredo Morelos and Joe Aribo earned the win for the visitors while Josh Ginnelly was sent off late on. 

Robbie Neilson made four changes to the side that was victorious a week ago against Livingston, with places for Peter Haring, Josh Ginnelly, Gary Mackay-Steven and Taylor Moore. 

The game, predictably, started at 100mph and there was nearly an opener inside 3 minutes when John Souttar’s ball over the top found Liam Boyce and his lobbed effort drew a superb save from Allan McGregor. 

Moments later, a superb reverse pass in behind from Moore found Ginnelly, and his cut back for Cammy Devlin found a shot on target from the midfielder but it was blocked. 

Rangers then opened the scoring with a classic sucker punch. Fashion Sakala got past Devlin on the byline and squared for Alfredo Morelos to finish.  

Sakala almost doubled their lead two minutes later when the ball reached him in the area but his shot went wide, although the visitors did score again shortly after. 

A long ball over the top caught out the Hearts defence and Joe Aribo was able to take the ball down and fire past Craig Gordon. 

Hearts attempted a response with Barrie McKay and Ginnelly both finding space in the area before being crowded out. 

On the half hour, Boyce was fed by Moore, turned and smashed a shot into the side netting. Two minutes later, Ginnelly drove at goal and hit a wicked shot from distance that was deflected wide although a goal kick was given. 

Just before the interval, Boyce had another sight of goal when Devlin played a ball to him inside the area but, on the stretch, his shot was straight at McGregor and palmed away. 

After the break, Hearts were on the attack again and a well worked corner between GMS and McKay saw the former get into the area and shoot for goal but again McGregor denied Hearts. 

Hearts came even closer to grabbing a goal on 53 minutes when Haring sprayed a pass wide to Ginnelly, he drove to the byline and smashed a ball across goal which was smashed onto the crossbar by Calvin Bassey and cleared. McKay then came close when he played a one-two with GMS but curled his effort wide of the post. 

On the hour, Rangers almost added a third. Playing on the counter attack, Morelos played in Scott Arfield but Gordon produced a strong block to deny the Canadian. 

Moments later, Gordon was called into action once more when Sakala got past Stephen Kingsley on the wing, drove into the area and shot. His effort was deflected and Gordon did well to clear with his foot after saving the initial effort. 

Then, on another counter, Kent played in Morelos whose shot was blocked before he squared for Arfield, but his shot was mis-hit and dribbled past the post. 

Hearts then had another big chance of their own. A deep Ginnelly cross was brought down by GMS and squared for Boyce who blazed over from 12 yards. 

The woodwork rescued Rangers again on 71 minutes, after Moore had been fouled 30 yards from goal. Kingsley stepped up but his shot crashed back off the bar and away. 

Matters were made worse with ten minutes remaining when Ginnelly was shown a second yellow card for getting involved in a ruckus by the touch line after a challenge by Devlin on Borna Barisic. 

Hearts came agonisingly close to grabbing a late goal when sub Ben Woodburn nipped in to grab a loose ball, with McGregor diving to his left and then denying Boyce from the rebound. 

After this, Rangers were content to play out time and took all three points despite a spirited Hearts display, with the Jambos remaining in third place. 

Hearts: Gordon, Kingsley, Souttar, Haring, Boyce, Mackay-Steven (Woodburn, 74'), Devlin (Gnanduillet, 86'), Moore, McKay, Halkett, Ginnelly. Subs: Stewart, Walker, McEneff, Halliday, Cochrane.

Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Bassey, Goldson, Kent, Aribo, Kamara, Morelos (Wright, 72'), Sakala (Lundstram, 82'), Barisic, Arfield. Subs: McLaughlin, Hagi, Davis, Patterson, Bacuna.

Referee: Nick Walsh