Hearts 1 - 3 Rangers: Kenny Miller hits a brace in easy win

Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates his second goal of the game. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates his second goal of the game. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
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It was two goals from Kenny Miller and two fingers to former manager Pedro Caixinha.

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Having been the talk of the steamie for the past month, as the ex-Rangers manager cryptically banged on about dressing-room moles and then dropped the veteran striker from his squad for the last four games of his tenure, Miller was not only reinstated to the line-up, he started the game with the captain’s armband on his sleeve.

It was a clear indication from caretaker boss Graeme Murty that this was to be a fresh start, with points the priority. And, weighing in with two goals and an assist, Miller certainly made his.

Playing a leading role, he helped the visitors craft a victory and find their footing again after their Betfred Cup departure and a midweek draw at home to Kilmarnock, and the 37-year-old striker left the pitch in the 84th minute to a standing ovation from the fans, who sang his name, along with that of interim boss Murty.

Having ended his last caretaker spell with a draw against Glasgow rivals Celtic, Murty started the latest period with a convincing win over Hearts to prevent the Govan side slipping any lower down the league standings and bolster his chances of remaining in situ should bookies’ favourite Derek McInnes be ruled out of the reckoning.

For Hearts, though, it was a disappointing afternoon as they followed up their derby defeat with another sore loss. Heading back to their spiritual home in a couple of weeks, the date many Hearts fans are now circling on their calendar is the opening day of the transfer window, when they hope that the redevelopment work needed on the threadbare squad can begin.

The expected return of Don Cowie, Arnaud Djoum and Aaron Hughes in the next couple of matches may help plug some gaps but the loss of Jamie Walker early in the second half means that the physio will still be busy and options will remain limited.

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The departure of Walker prompted a change in shape for Hearts and it was not one that suited them. Rangers had started brighter but after working to hard to have a say in proceedings, taking the lead and squandering a couple of really good chances to extend that advantage, Craig Levein’s men had been pegged back and if that felt like a “punch to the solar plexus”, according to the manager, the loss of Walker and the final half an hour of the match allowed Rangers to deliver a knock-out blow.

In the 17th minute Jason Holt shot at Jon McLaughlin but, chest high, it was an easy take though once again he had luxuriated in the lack of pressure applied by Hearts before unleashing the strike. It was a lesson that the “home” side finally seemed to heed, closing down their rivals and forcing them on to the back foot.

Six minutes later, that goaded young Ross McCrorie to grapple Isma Goncalves to the ground as he made inroads and from the resultant free kick, Kyle Lafferty curled a deft strike over the wall and into the top corner of Wes Foderingham’s net.

Hearts did get a lucky break in the 37th minute when it looked like McLaughlin had come too far and handled the ball outside his area. But, much to the fury of Alfredo Morelos, who was closing in, the officials did not react.

At that stage, though, Hearts were the more dangerous and will kick themselves for not making more of that as, two minutes, from the interval Miller opened his account, latching on to a Morelos through ball to equalise.

Four minutes after the restart it all began to crumble as Walker pulled up with a hamstring injury as he tracked Daniel Candeias back and the reshuffle of personnel was not adequate to quash a Rangers side with the bit between their teeth and, in particular, a striker like Miller.

While others like Holt and Danny Wilson were enjoying starts, it was the striker who had the biggest point to prove and with his second goal, a header in the 65th minute, he made it emphatically.

With 73 minutes gone, Windass made it 3-1 after Miller side-footed it into his path and there was absolutely no way back for Hearts.

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