It was a game that Russell Martin had said he was looking forward to, as he looked to renew acquaintances with his former Norwich City colleagues Kyle Lafferty and Steven Naismith.
But he couldn’t have envisaged the catch up going just as well as it did, as Rangers totally bossed the game, and ended the day with three points, a clean sheet and a much-enhanced view of Celtic, just six points ahead of them.
Martin also managed to get on the scoresheet, netting his first goal since April, as the Ibrox side ran out 2-0 victors.
“My last goal was April last year so maybe that’s why I went a bit mad in the celebration. That one was a tap in from a yard with my left foot as well. I don’t know where the knee-slide came from but they’re killing me now.
“To score my first goal for this club would have been great against anyone but it was good to catch up with Kyle and Steven who are good lads. It’s a bit easier when you’ve won the game. They wouldn’t have enjoyed their return here but they’ll move on.
“Steven nearly scored from one of my clearances. I was trying to knock him and the ball into row Z and luckily it rebounded beyond the goal. Thank God he didn’t score.”
But the result was one they thoroughly deserved.
“We’re delighted with the result and performance – my goal just capped it off. After last week we needed a performance like that where we were organised first. And some of our attacking play – we should have been out of sight before getting the second goal. No-one could have grumbled if we’d won by more.”
Certainly not the Hearts manager, Craig Levein, who admitted his men had been soundly beaten and conceded that goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who is desperate to force his way into the reckoning for a Scotland call-up, was a major reason the scoreline was not even more one-sided. “I think he is doing well. He has got a fantastic record. A lot of clean sheets. A lot of them are down to the defence but just as many are down to him. You saw him for yourself today, he kept the score down and yeah I think he is playing at the top of his game for sure.
“Our best players were defenders and the goalkeeper and that tells you about our performance. We didn’t do enough in the match to warrant winning the game, I think even to get a draw. Two nil probably flatters us.”