Ruthless Rangers moved top of the Scottish Premiership after an impressive thrashing of 10-man Hearts.
An Antonio Colak double rewarded the visitors’ electric opening, before Cammy Devlin’s senseless lunge on Rabbi Matondo earned a first-half red.
That allowed Rangers to coast to a victory, crowned by substitute Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent – his first goal since March – in the closing stages.
Rangers go a point clear of Celtic, who face Motherwell later on Saturday.
Hearts remain third, now six points behind Rangers, after their 100% league record at Tynecastle this season was demolished.
Robbie Neilson backed up his bold pledge to take the game to Rangers by starting on-loan Wigan Stephen Humphry to bolster an attack-minded line-up.
But Hearts – despite a lively start – couldn’t live with Rangers’ speed and incision at the other end. Within 40 minutes the Ibrox side were two goals and a man up and Neilson’s game-plan was out the window.
Any hopes of a comeback were effectively ended by Devlin’s senseless dismissal, rushing in to plant his studs on Matondo’s ankle as the Rangers winger shielded by the ball from Alex Cochrane on the touchline. Devlin prides himself on combative play, but it was sheer stupidity.
Colak, again preferred to Morelos, continues to justify his status as Rangers’ first-choice striker. The Croat had just four touches in Hearts’ box and two shots. Both ended in the back of the net as he clinically took his tally to 11 goals in 14 games.
Colak barley had to jump to meet Kent’s excellent Ryan Kent’s whipped cross and divert a header in off the post for the early breakthrough.
Scott Arfield missed a glaring chance, guiding wide from 10 yards, but the second goal wasn’t long in coming. John Lundstram’s raking pass found Matondo, who darted in from the right touchline and threaded a pass for Colak to beat Craig Gordon from a tight angle.
Hearts were spared further first-half punishment when Arfield had a goal ruled out for a dubious foul by Matondo on Gordon.
The dismissal made it a damage limitation exercise for Hearts. Both sides, perhaps with an eye on looming European action this week, made a double change at the break. Hearts fans will hope the withdrawal of Barrie McKay and Stephen Kingsley was nothing more than precautionary.
While Rangers’ intensity noticeably dropped, they had plenty of chances to add to their lead, and Gordon was finally beaten a third time when James Tavernier teed up Morelos to blast home.
And Kent rounded off an emphatic Rangers performance with the pick of the goals, curling into the bottom corner.
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
Heart of Midlothian
Squad number1Player nameGordon
Squad number2Player nameSmith
Squad number20Player nameNeilson
Squad number3Player nameKingsley
Squad number19Player nameCochrane
Squad number29Player nameHumphrys
Squad number8Player nameKiomourtzoglou
Squad number14Player nameDevlin
Squad number17Player nameForrest
Squad number18Player nameMcKay
Squad number9Player nameShankland
Squad number5Player nameHaring
Squad number7Player nameGrant
Squad number16Player nameHalliday
Squad number30Player nameGinnelly
Squad number77Player nameSnodgrass
Squad number1Player nameMcGregor
Squad number2Player nameTavernier
Squad number6Player nameGoldson
Squad number26Player nameDavies
Squad number31Player nameBarisic
Squad number8Player nameJack
Squad number4Player nameLundstram
Squad number17Player nameMatondo
Squad number37Player nameArfield
Squad number14Player nameKent
Squad number9Player nameColak
Squad number10Player nameDavis
Squad number19Player nameSands
Squad number20Player nameMorelos
Squad number30Player nameSakala
Squad number71Player nameTillman
- 3KingsleySubstituted forHallidayat 45′minutes
- 29HumphrysBooked at 66mins
- 8KiomourtzoglouSubstituted forGrantat 61′minutes
- 14DevlinBooked at 39mins
- 17ForrestSubstituted forHaringat 44′minutes
- 18McKaySubstituted forSnodgrassat 45′minutes
- 9ShanklandSubstituted forGinnellyat 61′minutes
- 2TavernierBooked at 36mins
- 26DaviesBooked at 14minsSubstituted forSandsat 45′minutes
- 8JackSubstituted forDavisat 45′minutes
- 17MatondoSubstituted forSakalaat 79′minutes
- 37ArfieldSubstituted forTillmanat 63′minutes
- 9ColakSubstituted forMorelosat 63′minutes
- Steven McLean
Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Rangers 4.
Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Rangers 4.
Goal! Heart of Midlothian 0, Rangers 4. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Malik Tillman.
Attempt missed. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Fashion Sakala.
Attempt missed. Josh Ginnelly (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Stephen Humphrys with a headed pass.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jorge Grant.
Attempt blocked. Malik Tillman (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Fashion Sakala.
Offside, Rangers. Fashion Sakala tries a through ball, but Steven Davis is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alfredo Morelos.
Substitution, Rangers. Fashion Sakala replaces Rabbi Matondo.
Attempt missed. Borna Barisic (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Steven Davis.
Goal! Heart of Midlothian 0, Rangers 3. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Tavernier.
Borna Barisic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Josh Ginnelly (Heart of Midlothian).
Attempt missed. Josh Ginnelly (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass.
Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Connor Goldson.
Offside, Rangers. Connor Goldson tries a through ball, but Alfredo Morelos is caught offside.
Steven Davis (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian).