Hearts’ deputy captain John Souttar today implored his colleagues to learn from yesterday’s defeat at Ibrox and admitted: “Our start to the game killed us.”
The Edinburgh club were 2-0 down inside 12 minutes, which became 3-0 on 32 minutes as Rangers seized the initiative. The final 3-1 scoreline was Hearts’ first defeat of the season and Souttar wants to ensure lessons are heeded.
In particular, Rangers’ first goal by Ryan Kent arrived from a poorly-defended free-kick. The visiting defence sprinted out en-masse as James Tavernier’s delivery arrived, but several Rangers players remained onside and Kent had an easy conversion.
The second from Alfredo Morelos came after Demetri Mitchell was caught in possession. Scott Arfield scored the third but Jimmy Dunne reduced the deficit in the second half after Hearts had Michael Smith red-carded.
“The way we started killed us,” said a frustrated Souttar, Hearts’ stand-in captain with Christophe Berra injured. “At the first goal, we have worked on that move and it has worked four or five times for us this season, but you can’t come here and concede two sloppy goals. The crowd then get a lift and it was important we were solid for the first half-hour. That didn’t go to plan.
“We reacted well. We passed the ball and made chances, even with ten men. I just think the first 20 minutes killed us. It’s tough to come back from that but I think the boys will learn from it. This will stand us in good stead.
“It’s frustrating because we have a good defensive record. Any goal that goes in is disappointing but it definitely was today. You can’t be conceding goals like that at Ibrox. We reacted well, I thought, which was a positive.”
The Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved from Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu, whilst at the other end the home forwards were clinical in the first half.
“Allan McGregor had a great save from Naisy and Uche had a good chance too. But it’s all ifs and buts – at the end of the day they won 3-1. We just have to remember how well we have started the season,” said Souttar.
Hearts are still two points clear at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and the Scotland centre-back was mindful of that scenario as he digested defeat in Glasgow.
“We go into the international break top of the league regardless of what happened at the weekend,” he said.
“I think if you offered us and the club that at the start of the season, we’d have bitten your hand off. We just need to learn from what happened.”