3 talking points as Rangers roar back from Celtic defeat to demolish Hearts in five star display

Alfredo Morelos was back in town to help Rangers hammer Hearts and banish some of the Old Firm blues.

The hitman bagged a superb double to soften up the Gorgie men before sub Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield and Fashion Salaka completed a trouncing for the Tynecastle men.

Some serious questions were asked of Gio van Bronckhorst’s men after suffering a chasing against Celts.

But they came up with the answers at Ibrox with one of their best displays of the season.

Morelos showed why he was such a huge miss while on international duty as he ran the third top Jambos ragged to remain one point behind the Hoops in the title race.

Colombia might not have needed the striker after all – but he’s vital for Rangers.

As was this big win to end a bad week and get the show back on the road and his side as new blockbuster signing Aaron Ramsey also managed a late cameo.

The manager got the reaction he needed as he drafted in Ryan Jack and John Lundstram to add a bit of steel after the Celtic sore one – with Parkhead fall guys Borna Barisic and Glen Kamara benched.

John Souttar’s injury absence removed any need for awkwardness for Hearts over the defender’s Ibrox pre-contract situation.

But the Jambos could have done with him out there.

It was hardly a shock when Rangers surged ahead inside 11 minutes. The previous 11 had been fraught for Hearts as Gers came out roaring.

Leon Balogun waved over, Ryan Kent dragged an effort wide and Morelos had already tested Gordon before the hitman stuck the ball in the net.

The opportunity he stuck away came after a devastating move from the Ibrox men. The ball from Calvin Bassey did the damage to set Kent free and the wide man picked out his strike pal sliding in at the back post.

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It was just what Rangers – and boss van Bronckhorst – wanted – and the last thing Hearts needed.

Robbie Neilson’s side would have been planning on sitting tight for the opening 20 and hoping to get the crowd feeling restless.

Instead they were lucky they were not further behind by that stage when Morelos nudged the ball in to Kent’s path and he flashed inches wide of the target.

James Tavernier wasn’t far off either with a dipping free kick and Ryan Jack forced Gordon in to save as Hearts had to hang on.

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Morelos was denied by the Gorgie No.1 soon after when he managed to snap his legs shut in time to divert the striker’s low drive after a neat one-two with Tavernier.

In between times Kent had a shout for a penalty when nearly had his shirt removed by Nathanial Atkinson in the box, but the visitors survived until the break without further damage.

The visitors had been so far out of it they needed to pay to get back in after the interval.

Yet they came out fighting and were not far off a shock leveler just a minute in to the restart.

Rangers were caught on their heels as Stephen Kingsley picked up the loose ball and threw it over to the back post – when Atkinson arrived and flashed across the face of goal.

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And they were in again moments later when Bassey had a moment of madness to dither on the edge of his box and Cammy Devlin nicked in to lob Allan McGregor and the ball only just dropped the other side of the post.

The Gorgie men were on the front foot and the challenges started to fly in from both sides as Willie Collum’s book started to fill up.

Both bosses raged at some of the more inexplicable calls and Neilson ended up yellow cards along with a fair whack of others.

Some Gers fans were Mayne starting to feel a tad uncomfortable – but Morelos settled the nerves.

The left foot curling finish from the edge of the box was superb – but the defending was ropy as the striker was allowed space to pick his spot.

Gordon denied him a quick third but sub Kamara got the better of the keeper to skip into the box and tuck away a third.

And a fourth followed as Arfield followed up after the keeper blocked to ram high in to the net.

Van Bronckhorst chucked on Ramsey and worse was to come for Hearts as Kent brilliantly burned up the Hearts backline to tee up Sakala to slide in a fifth.

Here’s three things we learned from Ibrox Stadium

amazing alfredo

Colombia might not need Alfredo Morelos – but he’s absolutely essential for Rangers.

The frontman makes a huge difference to their Gers team and it goes beyond just sticking the ball in the back of the net.

Morelos leads the line and sets the tone. It was clear from the first kick he was in the mood against Hearts. He was harassing defenders, running the channels and linking up play.

The frontman made the crucial early breakthrough that lifted the mood at Ibrox and he was a live wire all afternoon.

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Hearts must be sick of the sight of him with Morelos rattling nine goals in eight games against the Jambos but the star man remaining in form is an absolute must for the run in.

Pressing Matters

There was a huge difference in the Rangers set up from last Wednesday night. They sat back against Celts and paid the price but right from the off they squeezed Hearts in their own half.

The Jambos couldn’t get out and it helped Gers win the ball in key areas.

It made a huge difference in momentum and pressure. It was even more noticeable in the second half when Hearts came on strong and Rangers seemed to naturally sit deeper to counteract it.

If anything it only allowed the Jambos to get more of a foothold until Morelos took matters into his own hands and regained the authority.

But Rangers pushed again and pressed home the advantage to show they are firmly in this title fight.

Hopeless Hearts

Hearts will be kicking themselves. They are comfortably the third force in Scotland right now and no one is likely to shift them by the end of the season.

But they blew their own toes off at Ibrox.

The start they made to the second half was they way they should have kicked off the game. The Jambos had Gers on the ropes after the break but poor defending for the second goal nuked their chances of rocking Rangers further.

Instead they completely went to pieces. The defending – which has been so solid for much of the season – went right out of the window. Rangers were slick but Hearts didn’t half leave the door open.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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