mai 24, 2022

Hearts 1 – 3 Rangers

4 min read

A much-changed Rangers side signed off their cinch Premiership campaign with a 3-1 win away to Scottish Cup final opponents Hearts.

Ibrox manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst rested all his big guns ahead of a big week in which his team will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final in Seville on Wednesday before meeting the Jambos at Hampden next Saturday.

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson, in contrast, gave game time to all of those expected to feature in the final and the move appeared to backfire as top-scorer Liam Boyce limped off with a groin injury in the first half.

Peter Haring gave Hearts the lead, but goals from Cedric Itten and Alex Lowry turned the game around before half-time and debutant Cole McKinnon wrapped up victory for Rangers late on.

Haring put Hearts in front with a wonderful sweeping effort

There were six changes to the Hearts side that started the 2-1 defeat at Motherwell in midweek as key men Craig Gordon, Michael Smith, Stephen Kingsley, Ellis Simms, Cammy Devlin and Barrie McKay returned to the side, with Ross Stewart, Taylor Moore, Nathaniel Atkinson, Ben Woodburn, Josh Ginnelly and Andy Halliday dropping out.

Craig Halkett and John Souttar were both named among the substitutes as they stepped up their bids to prove their fitness for the final, and both got on in the second half.

Rangers, with 10 changes to the side from Wednesday’s win over Ross County, had the first attempt of the match after seven minutes, but Scott Arfield’s low half-volley from the edge of the box was straight at Gordon.

Cedric Itten equalises for Rangers
Cedric Itten equalises for Rangers

Hearts suffered a blow in the 12th minute when Boyce pulled up clutching his groin and had to be replaced by Ginnelly.

Rangers defender James Sands had to slide in and make a vital intervention in the 19th minute to stop Simms turning in a Ginnelly cross.

Alex Lowry curled Rangers in front with a low effort on the stroke of half-time
Alex Lowry curled Rangers in front with a low effort on the stroke of half-time

The Jambos made the breakthrough four minutes later when Haring fired in a low angled shot after being teed up by Simms just inside the box.

Rangers equalised in the 32nd minute, however. After Itten saw a shot pushed behind by Gordon, the Swiss striker rose to power home a header from the resulting corner, taken by Lowry.

The visitors went ahead in first-half stoppage time when Lowry slotted a low finish beyond Gordon from 12 yards out after some good footwork to create space for himself.

Cole McKinnon marked his Rangers debut with a clinching third goal
Cole McKinnon marked his Rangers debut with a clinching third goal

McKay went close to an equaliser with a couple of efforts from the edge of the box around the hour mark before the Hearts playmaker blazed a close-range effort high over soon afterwards.

But Rangers stretched their advantage in the 81st minute when 19-year-old McKinnon, on as a substitute, fired into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.

GvB: Rangers are ready for Seville

Rangers manager Van Bronckhorst was delighted with the way his side performed, despite making 10 changes and leaving out all his main men ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.

« It was very pleasing, » he told Rangers TV. « It was the last game before two finals, so I decided to change the team and give players some rest.

« I was really impressed by the win and the way we played. You couldn’t see the changes we had made, especially with so many youngsters on the pitch. I think they performed really well. We dominated against a very good side with a very young team. I’m very proud. »

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Giovanni van Bronckhorst was pleased by Rangers’ win at Hearts, praises the youngsters who featured at Tynecastle and looks ahead to the Europa League final

Teenager Cole McKinnon came off the bench to seal the win with a goal on his debut. « It was great to see Cole in the first team, » said Van Bronckhorst. « I’m really pleased for him with this special moment. »

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Europa League final, Van Bronckhorst added: « It’s going to be amazing, a fantastic occasion. We will bring as many supporters as we can. We have to enjoy the occasion but make it a memorable night in Seville. »

Meanwhile, Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is hopeful a groin problem will not keep top-scorer Liam Boyce out of next weekend’s Scottish Cup final.

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Hearts boss Robbie Neilson reflects on the defeat to Rangers, finishing third this season and looks ahead to the Scottish Cup final

The Northern Irish striker was forced off just 12 minutes into the league defeat by Rangers. The two teams meet again next weekend at Hampden and Neilson is optimistic the issue will not rule Boyce out.

« It was just a tight groin, » said the Hearts manager. « He thinks it’s just a tightness. That’s all it is.

« As soon as there was any issue we just got him off. There’s no point in taking any risks. It will just be dependent on the next day or two if it is just a tightness. »

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