Rangers put Old Firm disappointment behind them with commanding 3-0 victory over Hearts.
Steven Gerrard’s side needed something big when they met Hearts at Ibrox on Wednesday night and the players duly delivered, collecting their first win since February.
Refreshment was needed, and Gerrard made four changes to the side that fell to a late defeat at Parkhead at the weekend. The suspended Alfredo Morelos was an obvious absence, whilst Andy Halliday, Ross McCrorie and Daniel Candeias all sat out as well, replaced by Jermaine Defoe, Jon Flanagan, Glen Kamara and Steven Davis.
An impressive start to the game almost saw Rangers take the lead with just two minutes on the clock, a ball from Ryan Jack finding Jermain Defoe who proceeded to finish clinically, only for the former Sunderland man be adjudged offside.
Rangers’ second top scorer James Tavernier was the next to test Hearts’ goal, a 25-yard effort requiring keeper Bobby Zlamal to punch clear. Gerrard’s men turning the screw.
The deadlock was eventually broken after 16 minutes, an excellent threaded ball from Arfield finding the run of Tavernier whose cutback into the box found Jermain Defoe waiting to pounce from 10-yeard out.
Tavernier was on hand again to create the second, his free-kick searching out defender Connor Goldson to head home from close-range.
If Hearts wanted any chance of saving face they needed to rally, and they did so around the half-hour mark, Christophe Berra twice forcing saves from set-pieces, the second an acrobatic stop from McGregor.
Comeback hopes were soon dashed after the break, though. A racing run down the flank from the dangerous James Tavernier found Defoe waiting in the box, and though Zlamal did excellently well to deny the Englishmen of his second of the game, Arfield was on hand to poke home to rebound.
Immense efforts from James Tavernier see him topping the rating charts, but credit should also go to former Burnley man Scott Arfield for his work in the midfield.
Deployed in a free role by Gerrard, Arfield danced around the pitch playmaking with tangible ease. He initiated the build-up play which ultimately created Defoe’s opener through linking up with Tavernier on the wing and added a goal of his own towards the end of the game thanks to decent positional awareness.
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