Rangers youngsters hailed in much-changed team - but two kids really catch manager's eye

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst praised the players who came into his much-changed team to defeat Hearts 3-1 in the last cinch Premiership match of the season.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst issues instructions from the sidelines.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst issues instructions from the sidelines.

The Dutch coach left out a number of first-team regulars, including captain James Tavernier, midfielder Joe Aribo and key forward Ryan Kent, ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt and turned to a mixture of reserve players and youngsters to try and win what was a dress rehearsal of the Scottish Cup final next Saturday.

They delivered for him emphatically, with Cedric Itten, Alex Lowry and Cole McKinnon finding the net after Hearts had taken the lead through Peter Haring.

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"It was very pleasing,” said Van Bronckhorst of the performance. “It was the last game before two finals so I decided to change the team and give players some rest. I was really impressed by the win and the way we played. You couldn't see the changes we had made, especially with so many youngsters on the pitch. I think they performed really well.

"We dominated against a very good side with a very young team. I'm very proud. I told them before the game to show confidence. Once we pull on the Rangers shirt they are expected to win games.”

It was a special afternoon for McKinnon, with the 19-year-old coming on in the second half and linking with fellow debutant Ross McCausland to score Rangers’ third goal. There was also a debut for Tony Weston, while midfielder Charlie McCann played 45 minutes and Adam Devine made his first start for the club.

Lowry and McKinnon were the ones who shone the most, with Lowry in particular causing problems for the Hearts backline.

"We know the qualities of Alex in one-v-ones and he showed,” continued Van Bronckhorst. “It was great to see Cole in the first team. I'm really pleased for him with this special moment.”

Rangers now head to Seville for the final against the Bundesliga outfit and Van Bronckhorst added: "It's going to be amazing, a fantastic occasion. We will bring as many supporters as we can. We have to enjoy the occasion but make it a memorable night in Seville.