The scoreline was 3-1 when John Beaton’s full-time whistle sounded at Ibrox. However, Hearts can think themselves lucky to have got out of Ibrox with only a two-goal deficit. They were put to the sword with three first-half goals. Ryan Kent got the first and the other two from Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield came quickly after. Hearts replied in the second half through Jimmy Dunne but the game had already gone for them.
As usual, I will take a look at some of the talking points from the match in more depth:
Rangers play own game for the first time against a physical opponent
It’s been a slight criticism of mine towards Steven Gerrard so far. When this side has come up against perceived physical teams – the likes of Motherwell and Livingston, Gerrard changed his style and system to try and directly combat their physical approach. Against Hearts, albeit this one was at home, he decided that Rangers would go out and impose their game onto Hearts. It’s no surprise that it worked. When the physicality was needed in the game, the likes of Connor Goldson, Joe Worrall, Jon Flanagan and even Ovie Ejaria were able to stand up to it, which allowed Rangers to gain control of the game, and play the football that this Gerrard Rangers team is renowned for.
It was very pleasing to see that turn out to be the case. As I said before, Gerrard has looked to match physical teams but this time his team’s football turned out to be the well-deserved winner on the day. Credit to the manager for taking that approach in what was a high-pressure game.
Another home game in the league killed off within half an hour
It’s now four league matches at Ibrox with four victories recorded, and all four have been won within the first half hour. I expected Rangers to come out and beat Hearts on the day. But when I saw it was the same XI that started against Rapid on Thursday night, I was expecting something of a slow start, especially as the team expended a ridiculous amount of energy in winning the three points against the Austrians.
However, the team proved me wrong and got the job done very early. Gerrard played under Rodgers when Liverpool missed out on the title. A big part of that Liverpool title tilt was the way Rodgers’ team would come out at Anfield and outplay teams from the first whistle, and that helped them to get the game won early. For me, this is what it’s like in domestic matches at Ibrox this season. Long may it continue.
The front three are on fire and are a joy to watch
Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Daniel Candeias. The front three destroyed Hearts. Kent’s direct running and ability to basically play puppeteer and Michael Smith played the role of the puppet on Kent’s string. He couldn’t cope and Kent would go inside and outside on his left or right foot and cause Smith all sorts of issues until he was sent off.
Alfredo Morelos: we saw a different side to him. When he was fouled he would go down and stay down. That meant he wouldn’t get involved with the opponent or the referee. However, the Colombian carried on where he left off against Rapid. He bullied Dunne and John Souttar and his flicked finish was absolutely sublime. We’re lucky to have him and lucky that Steven Gerrard saw that there was a player worth working with. It’s paying off big time.
Candeias is like the Duracell Bunny. He never stopped pressing. And that was evident in this match yet again. He robbed Mitchell before putting in a wonderful cross for Morelos to finish. They are all first choice at the moment and seem to be building up a solid rapport. They all play on instinct at the moment and Hearts, well, they had no answer.