Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughFootball Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough » Rangers cut the gap on Celtic with a fantastic win over Hearts Rangers cut the gap on Celtic with a fantastic win over Hearts – Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Rangers cut the gap on Celtic with a fantastic win over Hearts

jamie-murphy

One should hesitate to call it a title race, but certainly, Brendan Rodgers will find himself under most pressure since his arrival at Celtic after Rangers’ comprehensive 2-0 win over Hearts last weekend. Against seemingly tough opponents, Graeme Murty’s men swatted them aside, narrowing the gap between first and second to just six points on Saturday before Celtic stretched it to nine points again with a 2-0 win away at Aberdeen on Sunday.

Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin didn’t have a spare moment to catch his breath; such was the onslaught upon his goal. Rangers ended the game with 24 shots, although only 8 were on target, a paltry ratio which Murty will need to address. This is a far more confident team since Pedro Caixinha’s woeful tenure, and they immediately sprayed the ball around the pitch with comfort upon kickoff; all the hesitancy and awkwardness from the start of the season has mostly dissipated.

Sean Goss had the first chance in the seventh minute, forcing McLaughlin to tip his long-range effort over the bar. A strong double save followed, this time thwarting Greg Doherty and Alfredo Morelos. It was a former Rangers favourite who almost scored the opener against the run of play, Kyle Lafferty curled shot being pushed away by Wes Foderingham in the Rangers goal.

The first goal of the afternoon arrived with four minutes of the first half to play and it came in style; Jamie Murphy jinked past Aaron Hughes, John Souttar, and goalkeeper McLaughlin in the penalty box before adjusting his feet and slotting the ball home. It would have been an especially sweet moment for the Scottish winger, given it was his first goal at Ibrox and he’s been a Rangers supporter since childhood.

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Rangers started the stronger side again in the second half with Josh Windass blasting a shot over the bar from a Morelos cross when it seemed easier to score. Under intense Rangers domination, McLaughlin deserved sympathy, for the scoreline would have been much bigger had it not been for his solid efforts.

The home side were wasteful too – as evidenced by the number of shots on target they had – and it was a surprise that it took until the 88th minute for the second goal to come. Daniel Candeias flashed a typical ball across the box and defender Russell Martin was there to sweep it home. It was another first home goal for a new signing, and Murty will be delighted with how they seem to be settling in.

New Scotland manager Alex McLeish was an interested spectator at the ground where he enjoyed success in charge, and the performances of the two scorers will have impressed him greatly. It’s still early to judge on Murty’s effectiveness as Rangers manager, but what can’t be contested is that his players are playing with a renewed sense of purpose and style under his tutelage. All they can keep doing is playing their football, focusing on their own games, and hope that Celtic’s recent confidence issues translate into a more permanent decline.

Freelance writer currently based in New Zealand.