Hearts humbled by young Rangers side as fresh injury woes hit before Scottish Cup final
Robbie Neilson’s side opened the scoring through Peter Haring midway through the first half. That was cancelled out by Cedric Itten before Alex Lowry put Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men ahead just before the break. The scoring was complete when youngster Cole McKinnon came off the bench to score his first top-flight goal.
There was the welcome sight of John Souttar and Craig Halkett coming off the bench in the second period as they look to get fit before next week’s Scottish Cup final, though there was another injury headache for the manager to endure as Liam Boyce limped off in the first half.
Neilson, continuing with the trend of recent weeks, changed up the formation of his team to match up with the opposition. The 3-5-2 at Fir Park was shifted into a 4-4-2 with Stephen Kingsley at centre-back and Boyce partnering Ellis Simms in attack.
Rangers, who were fielding an almost completely reserve side ahead of the Europa League final, created two half chances before Hearts took the lead on 23 minutes.
Simms did excellent well to hold the ball up in the away penalty area before laying off for Haring. The Austrian showed great composure from the edge of the area to sweep his shot into the far corner.
The visitors were level eight minutes later. Itten was denied by Gordon from open play, but the Swiss striker made no mistake from the resulting corner as he bulleted a header past the Hearts captain from close range.
Rangers doubled their advantage just before the break when Lowry, not for the first time in the half, was granted far too much room on the left. He advanced to the penalty box before cooly passing beyond Gordon.
Hearts were improved after the break, though it should be noted that Rangers made further changes which dramatically reduced the age of their team.
Barrie McKay went close twice around the hour-mark, flashing a shot just over the bar and another narrowly wide of the far post.
The away side would create the best opportunity of the second period to the point where Charlie McCann sliced a finish wide when he should have bulged the net from inside the penalty box.
Hearts’ embarrassment was complete when McKinnon netted with a fine effort into the far corner.