Hearts debrief: Referee losing control, Hearts' high defensive line, Liam Boyce's opportunities

A look back at Hearts’ defeat to Rangers in the cinch Premiership.

By Craig Fowler
Sunday, 12th December 2021, 3:00 pm
Updated Monday, 13th December 2021, 9:55 am
Hearts Craig Gordon questions referee Nick Walsh
Hearts Craig Gordon questions referee Nick Walsh

Player of the match

John Souttar may wish another crack and trying to track Joe Aribo for Rangers’ second goal, but otherwise the defender was the epitome of composure in possession and delivered a couple of terrific balls in behind, including the early chance for Liam Boyce. Barrie McKay was, yet again, the most creative force in the final third, while Craig Gordon deserves some kudus for three second-half saves in the space of six minutes which at least gave Hearts a puncher’s chance of getting back into it.

Key moment

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The aforementioned Boyce chance. The striker was through on goal after getting the better of Connor Goldson. With the ball bouncing he opted to chip it, only to be denied by a great save from Allan McGregor. Hearts were piling on the pressure in the first five minutes but would find themselves behind to their opponents’ first attack of the game. Boyce had a decent game overall as he continued to threaten, but he’ll be disappointed he didn’t get a hat-trick, let alone at least one goal.

Ref watch

Nick Walsh drew the ire of the Hearts support and little wonder. Aside from missing a handball from Goldson in the second half, which was understandably as it wasn’t the strongest of contacts, he didn’t really have any big decisions to make. Instead he threw yellow cards about with abandon and had little grip on a game which was far from dirty.

Benefit of hindsight

Hearts have looked good playing in a back four the last two games, but they had yet to be beaten at Tynecastle this season where they’ve exclusively used a 3-4-3 formation. It’s hard to be too critical as they played well, but Rangers were granted too much space in behind as Hearts were punished for playing with a dangerously high line.

Moment you may have missed

Peter Haring had a couple of choice words for the official when Walsh made the Austrian move a free-kick about three yards to the right at the halfway line. Walsh missed it, but Haring later talked himself into a booking regardless.

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