Hearts went down 5-0 to Rangers at Ibrox Stadium, on a bad day at the office for the Jambos in the cinch Premiership.
A first half strike from Alfredo Morelos was followed by a second half goal blitz that saw the Ibrox side secure a comfortable victory.
Rangers came out the traps hard and fast, backed by a typically vocal Ibrox crowd. Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun flashed two headers over Craig Gordon’s bar just sixty seconds into the contest. Hearts, keen not to concede too much footing to Rangers so soon, responded through Aaron McEneff – the Irishman driving forward into the Gers’ half before letting loose a warning shot from 20-yards.
Ryan Kent was up next, beating Taylor Moore twice with some fancy footwork on the edge of the area; his first attempt dragged well wide of goal, before Stephen Kingsley stepped up to block his second with a well-timed boot.
With Hearts forced to absorb much pressure, Rangers soon had their first goal. On 11 minutes, Calvin Bassey chipped a ball through the Hearts defence – Kent cushioned it down before cueing up Alfredo Morelos, the Colombian producing the finish to make it 1-0 to the home side.
Kent and Morelos then combined once again before seeing another pacey shot flash past Craig Gordon. The JTs found brief moments of joy down the right side, Atkinson showed some nice movement that kept Bassey thinking, but the sheer pace with which Rangers pickpocketed and turned the ball over meant Hearts were under the cosh as soon as the ball was lost.
With chances at a premium, Hearts knew they had to make the most of every foray into the Rangers box. With just minutes until half-time, Liam Boyce scooped up the ball inside the six-yard area. Surrounded by blue shirts, he rolled it to an oncoming Alex Cochrane – the Englishman connected well but saw his prodded shot denied by a last-gasp Goldson block. And so, Hearts went into the break with work to do.
Robbie wasted no time in shaking up the formula: Aaron McEneff was replaced in favour of Ellis Simms as Hearts opted to send resource to the forward area. Buoyed by the fresh reinforcement, Hearts quickly registered their first chance: Stephen Kingsley’s lobbed ball forward picked out Atkinson with real pace at the back post, the Aussie stabbing just wide.
His countryman was up next: another Kingsley ball from above causing havoc in the Rangers defence, allowing Cammy Devlin to latch onto it and send a lobbed effort just inches wide of Allan McGregor’s goal.
It was Morelos though that was to be Hearts’ undoing once again. Capitalising on the space in front of him to unleash a rocket high into the top-left corner past a stretching Craig Gordon. Rangers two to the good after 64 minutes.
Morelos had a hand in the next goal – skilfully feinting before feeding the ball to Glen Kamara through the middle. The Finland midfielder drove into the area, dummied a Hearts man, and tucked the ball home to make it three after 72 minutes.
Rangers were in control and added a fourth just minutes later – Scott Arfield steering the ball beyond Gordon following a frantic goalmouth scramble. Rangers completed the scoring on 84 minutes as substitute Fashion Sakala added an extra.
The Hearts XI: Gordon, Atkinson (Haring 72’), Kingsley, Moore, Sibbick, Cochrane, Baningime, Devlin (Woodburn, 75’), McEneff (Simms, 45’), McKay (Ginnelly, 75’) Boyce (Halliday, 77’)
Subs not used: Stewart, Pollock, Mackay-Steven