A strong performance, especially in the first half, saw Rangers win 3-1 against SPFL Premiership leaders Hearts. The visiting side showed throughout the match why they’ve made such a good start, but Rangers were too strong for them over the piece. After an excellent performance on Thursday against Rapid Vienna, the players were able to continue the levels of energy in this match. The attacking pace was high and the desire to win every battle was evident. Below is a breakdown of how I feel each player rated on the day.
ALLAN McGREGOR – 9
McGregor made 3 vital saves in this match. Two of those came just after Rangers made it 1-0, and were both excellent. The third was late in the match and prevented Hearts from getting any sort of further encouragement. He got a hand to the goal but had little chance of keeping the ball out. With the wind and rain affecting the ball even when on the ground, it wasn’t easy to find players with his kicks. Despite that, his distribution was strong.
JAMES TAVERNIER – 8
Tavernier defended really well, often getting back to knick the ball from players when under pressure. His attacking play was as good as it usually is, with his running and link-up causing all sorts of problems. The first goal came from his free kick, and the third from a cross he played in from deep. Some great passes also created chances for the likes of Kent and Arfield.
CONNOR GOLDSON – 8
With McLean and Ikpeazu starting, both centre-halves had a very physical challenge to face in this match. Goldson dealt with that pretty well overall. One mistake in the first half almost led to a good chance for Hearts as he tried to win the ball from Ikpeazu and was outmuscled. After that, he let the striker take a touch before winning the ball more often than not.
JOE WORRALL – 8
Worrall was stretched quite a few times as Hearts tried to target him. Ikpeazu beat him once early in the match, but after that the young defender dealt with everything very well. Some good pace on the turn in the second half saw him get to the ball in front of the striker more than once in the second half. His passing was also assured and kept the attacking tempo high.
JON FLANAGAN – 9
Flanagan had an excellent match. This game suited his style of defending as Hearts looked to play quite narrow. He won numerous tackles and headers and covered for the centre-halves. On the ball, he was composed and picked out passes. In the first half, he saw a shot saved when overlapping Kent on the left. We often forget that the new signings are still settling into the side. Flanagan showed his ability and how important he is to the squad.
LASSANA COULIBALY – 8
Coulibaly was asked to play the defensive midfield role again, and like Thursday he performed well. When Hearts got chances on the break, he was often there to win the ball back. On the ball, his passing was crisp and kept the team moving at a good pace. Yet again he showed tactical discipline and composure throughout this match.
OVIE EJARIA – 7
Ejaria played well but wasn’t quite as involved as he usually is. His work rate and intelligent pressing in midfield forced plenty of mistakes or broke up Hearts attacks. On the ball, he wasn’t as free to be creative and had to keep possession in tight areas often. Gerrard mentioned after the match that he was feeling a little tight from Thursday, and he was substituted after 60 minutes or so.
SCOTT ARFIELD – 9
Not only did Arfield score, but he also contributed massively to how well Rangers played. His movement and ability to take the ball under pressure led to Rangers playing some excellent football in midfield. He was also pressing very well and winning tackles. Some of his runs beyond the striker were picked out and unlucky not to lead to more. His goal was a simple finish but came from excellent running from midfield.
DANIEL CANDEIAS – 8
Candeias had another match where you question just what it would take to stop him from running. His energy levels were outstanding, and that led to the second goal as he pressed Mitchell into a mistake. On the counter-attack, his direct running and ability to spot a pass led to some good chances. Again, he showed why he’s vital to the team when in this sort of form.
ALFREDO MORELOS – 9
Morelos assisted the first goal, scored with a beautiful finish, and was directly involved in the third. His hold-up play and ability to beat defenders in physical battles was key throughout. With the high level of confidence he has right now, he was able to be a real threat on the ball. Off the ball, his movement created openings for either himself or others. Unlucky not to score a second goal when he ran just a little too early for a cutback.
RYAN KENT – 9
Kent was clearly enjoying himself on a day when flair players can often go hiding. In a match which was physical and in weather that didn’t suit good football, he showed his ability and confidence throughout. The skill and turn to win the early free-kick was an indicator of the mood he was in. His goal was a simple finish, and he had two other very good chances which came from him beating players with the ball at his feet. He drew a number of free-kicks, beat players with dribbles often, and had the Ibrox crowd enthralled.
RYAN JACK – 4
Jack looked comfortable in midfield when he came on, although the game was starting to dip in terms of energy by then. Some nice passes and link-up play.
ANDY HALLIDAY – 2
Halliday came on late to shore things up in midfield. Not involved too much.
KYLE LAFFERTY – 2
Like Halliday, Lafferty came on late and didn’t have a lot of time to get involved.
How did you feel the players rated? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.