Hearts 0-4 Rangers: Ten-man Jambos suffer against clinical Ibrox forwards
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Antonio Colak’s first-half double effectively killed the game as a contest before substitute Alfredo Morelos and winger Ryan Kent a third and fourth respectively during the second period. The result sent Rangers top of the Premiership, with Celtic due to host Motherwell later in the day.
Devlin’s dismissal before the interval for a dangerous tackle on Rangers winger Rabbi Matondo merely compounded Hearts’ difficulties.
An early goal for the visitors on five minutes gave them an advantage they never looked like relinquishing. Hearts chased the game from that moment onwards but did not manage to create many openings even before Devlin was ordered off.
For both these clubs, this was the first fixture of an intense and congested period prior to the World Cup break. Hearts were starting 12 matches inside six weeks in both the cinch Premiership and Europa Conference League, with Fiorentina due in Gorgie on Thursday.
Rangers face 13 games inside the same timeframe in the league and Champions League. They travel to Anfield to meet Liverpool on Tuesday.
No-one could afford to lose focus on the immediate task and the visitors stamped their early authority by scoring just minutes into this encounter.
Colak dropped deep and dispatched a loose ball first-time out to Kent on the left. The Croatian internationalist charged into the penalty area to meet Kent’s subsequent cross with a precise downward header which hit the net via Craig Gordon’s left post.
Hearts required better movement when in possession of the ball and were fortunate not to concede again on 20 minutes. A ricochet off Alex Cochrane bounced favourably for Scott Arfield in behind the home defence, but his left-footed attempt rolled wide of target.
When Colak struck again on the half-hour, it put clear daylight between the teams. Matondo ran directly at Cochrane and threaded through ball for Colak to clip past Gordon and into the corner of the net from a tight angle.
His combination of movement and finishing was too much for Hearts central defenders Lewis Neilson and Stephen Kingsley. The task merely became harder when Devlin was dismissed six minutes from the interval.
As Matondo shielded the ball from Cochrane in front of the away technical area, the Australian midfielder charged across for an uncompromising challenge which was over the ball and caught the Rangers winger on the heel. Referee Steven McLean instantly produced a red card for serious foul play.
The second half played out, as expected, with blue shirts commanding possession due to their extra-man advantage. They probed repeatedly at Gordon’s goal, forcing the keeper to stop Kent's header before substitute Morelos added a third goal from James Tavernier’s pass.
Kent completed the scoring in stoppage-time, finding space to angle a right-footed shot low beyond Gordon into the corner of the net.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Gordon; M Smith, Neilson, Kingsley (Halliday 46), Cochrane; Devlin, Kiomourtzoglou (Grant 61); Humphrys, McKay (Snodgrass 46), Forrest (Haring 44); Shankland (Ginnelly 61).
Rangers (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Davies (Sands 46), Barisic; Jack (Davis 46), Lundstram; Matondo (Sakala 79), Arfield (Tillman 63), Kent; Colak (Morelos 63).
Referee: Steven McLean.