Heart of Midlothian 1-3 Rangers: Youthful visitors ease to win

Cedric Itten and Alex Lowry (far right) both scored in the first half for Rangers

Rangers began one of the biggest weeks in their history with a youthful XI easing to victory over Hearts in the Scottish Premiership at Tynecastle.

Hearts led through Peter Haring’s strike, seven days before the two sides meet again in the Scottish Cup final.

But Rangers, who take on Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday in the Europa League final in Seville, fought back through Cedric Itten and Alex Lowry.

And 19-year-old Cole McKinnon scored from the bench on his debut.

“We dominated against a very good side with a very young team,” said Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. “I’m very proud.”

Hearts end the league season with just one point from four games, but what will concern manager Robbie Neilson is that forward Liam Boyce lasted just 12 minutes before hobbling off injured.

However defenders John Souttar and Craig Halkett both made late appearances after lengthy injury lay-offs ahead of the trip to Hampden.

Billed as a cup final rehearsal, both managers made 15 changes between them from midweek, with Rangers naming a bench that had an average age of 20.

The likelihood is the sides that walk out in Seville and Hampden next week will be much different from the ones that emerged from the Tynecastle tunnel, but there was no lack of tempo as Scott Arfield twice threatened to give the visitors an early lead.

It remained lively. Steven Davis shot wide for Rangers, while at the other end goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin had to race out and slide tackle Gary Mackay-Steven, who had broken through the visitors’ backline.

Ellis Simms was the main cause of angst for the Rangers defence, and the forward was pivotal as Hearts took the lead.

The on-loan Everton man latched onto Josh Ginnelly’s pass, held it up, then laid the ball off to Haring who cracked a laser from the edge of the box and into the bottom left-hand corner.

But the lead was short lived. Itten had a low shot deflected over the bar, but raced to the front post to meet the corner and headed in his first league goal of the season.

Rangers were always a threat on the counter attack. Amad Diallo shot over the bar after a neat one-two with Aaron Ramsey, before Lowry scored his first league goal for Rangers.

The 18-year-old collected the ball out wide on the left and planted a classy finish beyond Gordon.

As Barrie McKay livened up so did Hearts, and he had two good chances in a minute. First he juggled the ball then flashed a left-foot shot just over the bar, before racing onto a cut-back and firing just wide of a post.

McKay shot over again after Nathan Atkinson elected to pass rather than shoot, but then Rangers’ youngsters took over to show the future is bright in Govan.

Charlie McCann looked like he would burst the net, only to pull his shot wide. Then Cole McKinnon – 20 minutes after coming on for his debut – lashed in a fine finish from the edge of the box to make it three.

Tony Weston then headed wide at the back post as Hearts were opened up again.

Hearts did have the last chance when McLaughlin pushed wide a Toby Sibbick shot, but Neilson’s side will need much better when it really matters in seven days time.

Man of the match – Alex Lowry

Alex Lowry (right) had a goal, an assist, and looked a real prospect for Rangers
The playmaker (right) had a goal, an assist, and looks a real prospect for Rangers

What did we learn?

Both managers would have wanted to get through the 90 minutes without injuries to key players. Neilson is beginning to get many of his players back fit and now has options ahead of the Hampden showpiece.

Boyce’s injury will be a worry, but replacement Ginnelly was one of the hosts’ better players and may well have played himself into the cup final starting XI. Haring, McKay and Simms have all surely done enough to start the final, too.

It may well be a case that no players who started for Rangers will start in Seville, but in Lowry they have a player who could be a big part of the team over the next few seasons.

The classy 18-year-old delivered a goal and an assist in the first half, and looked comfortable on the ball every time it arrived at his feet.

What did they say?

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson: “I just thought we weren’t at it; it had that end of season feel. But we’ve had a brilliant season so far.

“I could see a bit of rustiness in some of the players that came back too. It’s about next week now. We’ve got to bring the energy that we didn’t bring today.”

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “I was really impressed by the win and the way we played.

WYou couldn’t see the changes we had made, especially with so many youngsters on the pitch. They performed really well.”

What’s next?

The two sides face each other again at Hampden next Saturday in the Scottish Cup final (15:00 BST), but before that Rangers take on Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville on Wednesday in the Europa League final (20:00).

Player of the match

McKinnonCole McKinnon

Heart of Midlothian

  1. Squad number4Player nameSouttar

  2. Squad number18Player nameMcKay

  3. Squad number16Player nameHalliday

  4. Squad number1Player nameGordon

  5. Squad number20Player nameSimms

  6. Squad number30Player nameGinnelly

  7. Squad number5Player nameHaring

  8. Squad number3Player nameKingsley

  9. Squad number14Player nameDevlin

  10. Squad number21Player nameSibbick

  11. Squad number19Player nameHalkett

  12. Squad number2Player nameSmith

  13. Squad number17Player nameCochrane

  14. Squad number11Player nameMackay-Steven

  15. Squad number10Player nameBoyce

  16. Squad number12Player nameAtkinson


  1. Squad number58Player nameMcKinnon

  2. Squad number51Player nameLowry

  3. Squad number43Player nameKing

  4. Squad number54Player nameMcCausland

  5. Squad number64Player nameDevine

  6. Squad number10Player nameDavis

  7. Squad number11Player nameItten

  8. Squad number9Player nameDiallo

  9. Squad number26Player nameBalogun

  10. Squad number19Player nameSands

  11. Squad number16Player nameRamsey

  12. Squad number42Player nameMcCann

  13. Squad number52Player nameWeston

  14. Squad number37Player nameArfield

  15. Squad number15Player nameSimpson

  16. Squad number33Player nameMcLaughlin



Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Gordon
  • 21Sibbick
  • 3Kingsley
  • 17Cochrane
  • 2SmithSubstituted forHallidayat 68′minutes
  • 5HaringSubstituted forSouttarat 68′minutes
  • 14DevlinSubstituted forAtkinsonat 45′minutes
  • 18McKay
  • 11Mackay-Steven
  • 20SimmsBooked at 15minsSubstituted forHalkettat 75′minutes
  • 10BoyceSubstituted forGinnellyat 12′minutes


  • 4Souttar
  • 8McEneff
  • 9Woodburn
  • 12Atkinson
  • 13Stewart
  • 15Moore
  • 16Halliday
  • 19Halkett
  • 30Ginnelly


Formation 4-3-3

  • 33McLaughlin
  • 64Devine
  • 19Sands
  • 26BalogunSubstituted forSimpsonat 61′minutes
  • 43KingBooked at 69mins
  • 10DavisSubstituted forWestonat 71′minutes
  • 16RamseySubstituted forMcKinnonat 60′minutes
  • 37ArfieldSubstituted forMcCannat 45′minutes
  • 9DialloSubstituted forMcCauslandat 61′minutes
  • 11Itten
  • 51LowryBooked at 53mins


  • 15Simpson
  • 28McCrorie
  • 42McCann
  • 50Ritchie-Hosler
  • 52Weston
  • 54McCausland
  • 58McKinnon
  • 59Miller
  • 60Fraser

Kevin Clancy


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