Scottish Premiership
Rangers2Hearts1

Rangers 2-1 Heart of Midlothian

Barrie McKay scored the winner as Rangers beat Hearts to secure third spot in the Premiership.

Joe Garner's excellent diving header from Kenny Miller's cross gave the hosts an early lead before Hearts' Prince Buaben was sent off for pulling back Josh Windass when clean through.

Esmael Goncalves squared it after the break but Rangers replied through McKay following keeper Viktor Noring's error.

Hearts pressed for a leveller but were unable to find a way through.

Joe Garner makes it 1-0
Joe Garner scored his 10th goal of the season to give Rangers a 1-0 lead against Hearts

The victory takes Rangers on to 64 points and they now cannot be overhauled in third spot.

Hearts, meanwhile, remain six points behind fourth-placed St Johnstone, who entertain Partick Thistle at 15:00 BST on Saturday.

End-of-season affair

With a fair few empty seats on show at Ibrox, this one started like a typical end-of-season encounter.

And the Hearts defence looked as though their minds were elsewhere as Rangers hit the front in five minutes thanks to the same combination that won them the game at Partick Thistle last week.

Miller broke down the right and delivered a superb ball into the box, where Garner was left in far too much space to finish with a diving header.

Hearts' Prince Buaben is sent off
Hearts' Prince Buaben was red carded for hauling down Josh Windass when we has clean through on goal

Garner drew a fine stop from Noring with a close-range left-foot effort after good build-up play.

A poor start became a miserable one for Hearts after 25 minutes when makeshift centre-back Buaben was shown a straight red.

It was almost 2-0 five minutes from the break but David Bates, who was afforded acres of space in the penalty box, could not beat Noring with his header.

Clint Hill then hit the post with a header after rising above the Hearts defence at the back post, with Noring then doing well to clear the ball from his line.

Six minutes into the second half the visitors levelled after a superb counter-attack. Jon Toral gave the ball away in attack and Hearts raced upfield through Bjorn Johnsen, who rode a Jason Holt challenge and squared it for Goncalves to apply a simple finish.

Parity lasted all of 90 seconds, however, and it was a Noring nightmare that gifted the home side the lead.

Esmael Goncalves celebrates his goal
Hearts' Esmael Goncalves drew Hearts level at 1-1 in the second half

The Swedish keeper punched a harmless James Tavernier cross into the air when he should have caught it, and then failed to catch when he should have punched, with the ball dropping perfectly for McKay to drill it into the bottom corner.

Liam Smith missed a headed chance to level before Johnsen fired straight at Wes Foderingham as the visitors started to string some passes together going forward.

Toral forced Noring into a good save at his right-hand post with a fizzing low drive and Tavernier should have scored with a back-post header as Rangers looked for a third.

Martyn Waghorn missed a one-on-one chance at the death but the home side earned the win that sealed third place.

Shape of things to come?

Rangers fans will have been encouraged by a first-half display that boasted a shape and organisation that has been lacking in recent weeks, while Hearts were all over the place at times, particularly in defence.

Barrie McKay score for Rangers
Barrie McKay punished Viktor Noring's mistake to give Rangers a 2-1 lead

It was all change after the interval, however, as the 10 men of Hearts went to a back three and looked far more organised and threatening in attack.

That change of shape could be significant as Ian Cathro looks to build for next season, while Ibrox boss Pedro Caixinha will be desperate to see his side translate their first-half performance into a full 90 minutes.

Post-match reaction

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha: "It is going to be the last working week before a short period of vacation and we return again.

"The working week is ready. I am always working in advance and depending on what is going on, I make some changes after I analyse the game. But it is about winning.

"We want to finish well and until the last moment they are here and I am here, we can think only about winning."

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro: "It was a big day for him (keeper Viktor Noring). He was deserving of the opportunity over a period of time.

"I think he showed some qualities at times. Of course, there's the error in the cross and when you're talking about goalkeepers naturally it's always a bigger headline than the misplaced passes in the build-up.

"Of course there's the disappointment of losing but there's a lot of positives things inside. Today I'm even more convinced that we will be a very good team."

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 1Foderingham
  • 2Tavernier
  • 27Bates
  • 3HillBooked at 16mins
  • 17Hodson
  • 23HoltSubstituted forBarjonasat 67'minutes
  • 8ToralSubstituted forWaghornat 73'minutes
  • 9Miller
  • 11WindassSubstituted forDodooat 52'minutes
  • 10McKay
  • 7Garner

Substitutes

  • 14Dodoo
  • 16Halliday
  • 25Alnwick
  • 33Waghorn
  • 54Wilson
  • 55Barjonas
  • 61Beerman

Hearts

  • 13Noring
  • 5Hughes
  • 8BuabenBooked at 26mins
  • 19Nowak
  • 11NicholsonSubstituted forEl Ouriachiat 84'minutes
  • 15Cowie
  • 88MartinSubstituted forTziolisat 45'minutes
  • 24SmithBooked at 79mins
  • 10Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 20JohnsenSubstituted forCurrieat 74'minutes
  • 77Esmael Gonçalves

Substitutes

  • 1Hamilton
  • 4Tziolis
  • 6Kitchen
  • 12Avlonitis
  • 16El Ouriachi
  • 29Brandon
  • 30Currie
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
47,809

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home20
Away12
Shots on Target
Home9
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home14
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Rangers 2, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Rangers 2, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Joe Garner (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt saved. Martyn Waghorn (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Foul by Lee Hodson (Rangers).

Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Martyn Waghorn (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Moha replaces Sam Nicholson.

Attempt saved. Joseph Dodoo (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Foul by Martyn Waghorn (Rangers).

Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Booking

Liam Smith (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Joseph Dodoo (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

Jamie Barjonas (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Martyn Waghorn (Rangers).

Krystian Nowak (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Clint Hill (Rangers).

Rory Currie (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Rory Currie replaces Bjorn Johnsen.

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Martyn Waghorn replaces Jon Toral.

Foul by Barrie McKay (Rangers).

Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Barrie McKay (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Lee Hodson (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt saved. Jon Toral (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. Jon Toral (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Jamie Barjonas replaces Jason Holt.

Joe Garner (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian).

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by James Tavernier.

Attempt missed. Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Don Cowie.

Barrie McKay (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt saved. Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic363240992574100
2Aberdeen362241066343270
3Rangers361810853411264
4St Johnstone36167134844455
5Hearts361210145549646
6Partick Thistle361012143843-542
7Kilmarnock36914133451-1741
8Ross County36913144355-1240
9Dundee36107193856-1837
10Motherwell3698194165-2435
11Hamilton36614163153-2232
12Inverness CT36513183969-3028
View full Scottish Premiership table

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