Scottish Premiership
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Rangers 3-1 Hearts: Kent, Morelos & Arfield score for Steven Gerrard's side

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Highlights: Rangers 3-1 Heart of Midlothian

Rangers displayed their ruthless streak as they inflicted Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts' first defeat in 13 games this season.

Steven Gerrard's side, who move up to sixth place in the division, were ahead after three minutes through Ryan Kent.

Hearts' defence was breached again before the break, as Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield scored.

Michael Smith was sent off for the visitors after the break, before Jimmy Dunne pulled a goal back with a header.

Hearts had made their best start to a season since 2005/06, but had no answer to the confidence and assertiveness of a Rangers team that picked up where they left off in defeating Rapid Vienna in the Europa League group stage on Thursday.

Rangers continue to be commanding at home, with the win over Hearts being their 10th game unbeaten at Ibrox this season in all competitions.

Gerrard sticks to winning formula

Rangers delivered their "best 90 minutes" against Rapid, according to Gerrard, so there was little surprise that the manager opted to start with the same XI.

The consistency of selection was quickly rewarded, as Hearts were swamped in the early stages by the home side's assurance and attacking thrust. The visiting defence was certainly befuddled enough in the opening minutes to be caught out glaringly by a free-kick.

As the ball was swung into the Hearts penalty area, the visiting defence stepped out to play offside, but the movement wasn't co-ordinated enough. A lingering Uche Ikpeazu played the Rangers attackers onside, allowing Morelos to push the ball to Kent, who nudged the ball into an unguarded net.

Ibrox had reverberated in midweek as Rangers came from behind to win and that sense of urgency continued to shape this encounter. The home side were eager to assert superiority against a Hearts side that started the weekend five points clear at the top of the table.

Built around the power and athleticism of summer signings such as Ikpeazu and Peter Haring, Hearts have found their worth in wearing opponents down, and Rangers had to be resilient at times. Twice, Allan McGregor maintained the home side's one-goal advantage, the goalkeeper saving from Steven Naismith and then Ikpeazu.

Hearts were not so sure-footed in defence, though, and Demetri Mitchell was robbed of possession by Daniel Candeias before the winger crossed for Morelos to score with a back-heel flick. The Rangers players had combined in midweek for the third goal against Rapid and this was another slick move.

Ikpeazu appealed forlornly for a penalty after slumping to the ground inside the area, but there was little resistance from the visitors.

Rangers stretched their advantage when Morelos headed down James Tavernier's cross and Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal pushed the ball out to Arfield, who converted from close range.

The second half was less breathless, although Smith would have benefited from a moment of composure. Having been booked in the first-half for a foul on Ovie Ejaria, the defender body-checked Jon Flanagan and was shown a second yellow card by referee John Beaton.

Dunne pulled a goal back for the visitors with a header, but by then the game was lost.

Hearts suffered their first defeat of the season
Premiership leaders Hearts suffered their first defeat of the season

'Rangers are a force in the title race' - analysis

BBC Scotland's Rob McLean

Gerrard talked about making a statement and Rangers very much made a statement on Sunday. It could have been worse for Hearts - and credit to them for sticking at it - but they made mistakes in the first half and Rangers blew them away.

Morelos scored absolutely outrageously. He could have just gone for a tap in but chose to dance over the ball, and backheel it into the roof of the net. It just shows the confidence running through him at the moment.

Rangers' domestic form has been patchy but it's an inexperienced team coming together and getting better every week. They are a force in this title race, there is no doubt about that.

'We were brilliant again' - reaction

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "I thought my players were brilliant again for the majority of the game. We got a little bit sloppy towards the end but that's understandable.

"In the last four days, two fantastic results, and two top performances. The challenge for us now is can we go and replicate that on the road."

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "If we didn't gift Rangers the first two goals I think the stats say we were in the game. That included 34 or 40 minutes with 10 men.

"I'd like that game again, in all honestly, because I think it would have been a different outcome."

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 3WorrallBooked at 24mins
  • 15Flanagan
  • 23Coulibaly
  • 21CandeiasSubstituted forLaffertyat 87'minutes
  • 37ArfieldBooked at 40minsSubstituted forHallidayat 84'minutes
  • 10EjariaSubstituted forJackat 66'minutes
  • 14Kent
  • 20Morelos

Substitutes

  • 8Jack
  • 11Lafferty
  • 13Foderingham
  • 16Halliday
  • 17McCrorie
  • 19Katic
  • 40Middleton

Hearts

  • 1Zlamal
  • 2SmithBooked at 55mins
  • 4Souttar
  • 3DunneBooked at 27mins
  • 11MitchellBooked at 43minsSubstituted forWightonat 79'minutes
  • 14Naismith
  • 8LeeSubstituted forGaruccioat 73'minutes
  • 5Haring
  • 10Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 19Ikpeazu
  • 18MacLeanSubstituted forDikamonaat 57'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Bozanic
  • 12Amankwaa
  • 13Doyle
  • 15Wighton
  • 17Garuccio
  • 28Dikamona
  • 38Morrison
Referee:
John Beaton
Attendance:
49,865

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home13
Away11
Shots on Target
Home6
Away4
Corners
Home8
Away3
Fouls
Home12
Away26

Live Text

Match ends, Rangers 3, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Rangers 3, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Attempt blocked. Ben Garuccio (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by Andy Halliday (Rangers).

Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Kyle Lafferty (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

Andy Halliday (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt blocked. Ryan Jack (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Kyle Lafferty replaces Daniel Candeias.

James Tavernier (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Steven Naismith (Heart of Midlothian).

Lassana Coulibaly (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Andy Halliday replaces Scott Arfield.

Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).

Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Clévid Dikamona.

Daniel Candeias (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jimmy Dunne (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt saved. Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Craig Wighton replaces Demetri Mitchell.

Foul by Jon Flanagan (Rangers).

Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Peter Haring.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jimmy Dunne.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian).

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Clévid Dikamona.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Ben Garuccio replaces Olly Lee.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Clévid Dikamona.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jimmy Dunne.

Attempt blocked. Daniel Candeias (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Goal!

Goal! Rangers 3, Heart of Midlothian 1. Jimmy Dunne (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Olly Lee following a set piece situation.

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Ryan Jack replaces Ovie Ejaria.

Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hearts8611146819
2Hibernian85211961317
3Celtic8512134916
4Kilmarnock8512137616
5Livingston843185315
6Rangers84221881014
7Aberdeen833297212
8St Johnstone8224718-118
9Hamilton8206616-106
10Motherwell8125814-65
11St Mirren8116417-134
12Dundee8107516-113
View full Scottish Premiership table

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