Hearts 1-3 Rangers: Kenny Miller returns to haunt Jambos

Kenny Miller's equaliser for Rangers against Hearts
Kenny Miller's equaliser for Rangers against Hearts
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Kenny Miller returned from obscurity to score twice in Rangers' victory over Hearts.


Although former Ibrox forward Kyle Lafferty had put the Edinburgh club ahead, Miller marked his reinstatement with two goals before Josh Windass struck the third.

Managerless Rangers had youth coach Graeme Murty in temporary charge at BT Murrayfield after sacking Pedro Caixinha. The Portuguese banished Miller from the squad after a fallout but the veteran striker was back as captain for what was Hearts' third "home" fixture of the season at the national rugby stadium.

Their biggest league attendance since 1975 - 32,852 - looked on, but it was the 14,100 from Glasgow who were left celebrating. Lafferty's sumptuous free-kick opened the scoring before Miller prised an equaliser near the break.

He then headed Rangers ahead and Windass struck the third to expose Hearts' defensive deficiencies, particularly down the left flank. Those in maroon had been aiming to capitalise on the turmoil at Ibrox but had their own issues to contend with, mainly injuries to experienced midfielders Arnaud Djoum, Don Cowie and Prince Buaben.

Manager Craig Levein deployed Lewis Moore in an attack-minded line-up which failed to get control of the early exchanges.

Rangers started purposefully with the likes of Miller and former Tynecastle midfielder Jason Holt probing the opposition defence. Hearts were on the back foot but, on 24 minutes, a rare attack saw striker Esmael Goncalves fouled by the visiting defender Ross McCrorie.

Lafferty stepped forward to arc the resultant free-kick high past goalkeeper Wes Foderingham and into the net from 25 yards. He barely celebrated but home supporters did it for him. They would have been doubly elated moments later had Foderingham not produced an instinctive save to stop Ross Callachan scoring a quick second.

Goncalves and Rafal Grzelak narrowly missed connecting with John Souttar's free-kick before Hearts suffered a major let-off. Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin emerged to collect a through ball and handled as he crouched just outside his penalty area. Referee Craig Thomson allowed play to continue, but there was no doubting the Englishman's good fortune.

Rangers forced an equaliser two minutes before the break. Alfredo Morelos - who was having a fascinating battle with the Hearts captain Christophe Berra - weighted a through pass to Miller. He took a touch before dispatching a shot which deflected off Souttar's sliding leg and looped over the advancing McLaughlin into the net.

Harry Cochrane, the 16-year-old reinstalled in midfield by Levein, stung Foderingham's palms with an attempt seconds before the whistle sounded. The 1-1 interval scoreline was a fairly accurate reflection of proceedings, though. A hamstring injury forced Hearts to replace Jamie Walker with David Milinkovic early in the second half.

Rangers again forced their hosts back in the hope of seizing the initiative in this game, and their boldness was rewarded on 65 minutes. Miller peeled away from his marker to expertly head James Tavernier's cross away from McLaughlin and into the net. His delight was mirrored in the away end as fans spilled over the wall onto Murrayfield's perimeter astroturf.

Seven minutes later, Windass put the result beyond doubt. He cut in from the right flank to send a driven shot into the net with McLaughlin beaten. That knocked the stuffing out of Hearts, allowing the visitors to see out the remainder of the game in relative comfort.

Hearts (4-3-1-2): McLaughlin; M Smith, Souttar, Berra, Grzelak; Callachan, Cochrane, Moore; Walker; Lafferty, Goncalves.
Subs
52: Milinkovic for Walker
69: Stockton for Cochrane
69: Nowak for Moore
Unused subs: Hamilton, Brandon, Henderson, McDonald.

Rangers (4-2-3-1): Foderingham; Tavernier, McCrorie, Wilson, John; Jack, Holt; Candeias, Miller, Windass; Morelos.
Subs
84: Barjonas for Miller
87: Herrera for Morelos
90: Hardie for Windass
Unused subs: Kelly, Hodson, Kranjcar, Bates.

Referee: Craig Thomson.
Attendance: 32,852.