The result moves Walter Smith’s men four points clear at the top of the SPL with second place Celtic playing their game in-hand tomorrow at Rugby Park.

But that aside the Light Blues now know that two wins against Dundee United and Killie will see them Champions for the third time in a row and they will go in to these games on a massive high following this superb display against the Jambos.

A first-half blitz saw Nikica Jelavic, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis score and with the fans in party mode Rangers added to this advantage when Ryan Stevenson fired the ball in to his own net from a El Hadji Diouf cross on 84 minutes.

The home side were unchanged from the team that beat Motherwell 5-0 last weekend.

Lee McCulloch returned to the matchday squad, his first inclusion since February 2, and he took the place of Salim Kerkar on the bench.

That meant a familiar look to the back four with Steven Whittaker and Sasa Papac in the full back roles and Madjid Bougherra and Davie Weir continuing in the centre.

Lafferty again partnered Jelavic up front, with both having found the net against the Steelmen.

Fellow scorers last weekend Steven Naismith and Davis occupied the right sided roles in midfield with Mo Edu and Gregg Wylde balancing things on the left.

There was a surprise in the Hearts team for kick-off with influential central defender Marius Zaliukas being left out of Jim Jefferies’ squad altogether.

As expected the pre-match atmosphere was electric with Craig Whyte in attendance and a packed Ibrox singing ‘Penny Arcade’ and nearly taking the roof off the stadium.

The Rangers players responded and from referee Iain Brines’ first whistle they showed their determination to get the win and enjoyed a lot of early possession.

But on six minutes a terrific 40-yard pass from David Obua to David Templeton on the left wing led to the tricky winger supplying a decent pass inside but the Gers defence dealt with the danger.

This stung the home side back in to life and Jelavic then created the first real chance of the game.

Naismith received the ball in space in the centre circle and his inviting pass down the left channel found the big Croatian who cut inside before hitting a low, right foot shot past Jamie McDonald’s right hand post.

This had the Ibrox faithful off their seats and on eleven minutes Lafferty did brilliantly to win a corner which Davis delivered deep in to the 18-yard box.

The ball was eventually nodded to Bougherra in a wide position and his net bound shot was booted away nervously by makeshift centre back Adrian Mrowiec.

It was end to end stuff and in front of the Copland Road Stand Hearts were inches away from breaking the deadlock.

Whittaker missed a long ball and it arrived at the feet of the lively Templeton who was one-on-one with Bougherra.

The Jambos’ no. 12 dipped his shoulder to get by the Algerian and his left foot shot beat McGregor and crept by his far post with Stevenson lurking menacingly.

With 20 minutes on the clock the contest was typical of this stage of the season with Hearts playing with a confidence and freedom that comes with knowing that just a point will secure them a qualification slot in next season’s Europa League.

But just 60 seconds later the first goal arrived and it was not a surprise that is came from the brilliant Jelavic.

Davis found the striker with an offside-beating pass and from a wide angle he somehow slid a powerful shot past MacDonald.

The keeper should have done better but the Gers support couldn’t have cared less about that as they celebrated in style.

Following the goal the game calmed down although a crunching double-team tackle from Gregg Wylde and man-of-the-match Sasa Papac on Craig Thomson brought applause from fans who were understandably impressed by the players’ commitment.

On 37 minutes, however, a strong challenge from Davie Weir on Rudi Skacel produced the first yellow card of the game although it looked harsh with the Czech playmaker quickly getting back to his feet after the card had been shown.

In the passage of play that followed Allan McGregor made a stunning stop from a long range effort from Ian Black and the Light Blues then went on a swift counter attack that led to the second goal.

A delicious Steven Whittaker cross flew across the face of goal and the ball fell to Wylde who fired it back first time in to the danger area.

It sat up nicely for Lafferty who bulleted the ball home from eight yards in front of a jubilant Broomloan Road Stand.

If that was good Rangers third goal arrived two minutes before the break and it was another cracker, this time from Davis.

Wylde was again the provider with a teasing delivery and the Ulsterman came out of nowhere to head the ball beyond MacDonald who got his fingertips to the ball but could not stop it hitting the roof of the net.

At the half-time whistle Walter Smith’s men were given a standing ovation from the supporters who were hoping for more of the same in the second period and they weren’t disappointed.

Just three minutes in to the restart Wylde’s near post corner kick was headed wide by Jelavic who had lost his marker.

And at the other end Ryan McGowan’s rising shot failed to trouble McGregor who was once again in inspired form.

Goals were now proving harder to come by but there was still a real edge to this game with tackles flying in.

Steven Whittaker was first up to cement Ian Black, who crocked Jelavic at Tynecastle earlier this season, and the midfielder took some time to get back to his feet.

And on the hour mark it was Jelavic that was again in the thick of things when Eggert Jonsson clattered him from behind with a dreadful challenge.

A red card came from Brines’ back pocket and it was not a surprise that the Icelandic international was told to go for an early bath.

Jefferies had to make a couple of enforced changes in the second period with Stephen Elliot and Scott Robinson replacing the injured Templeton and Skacel early on.

But this did little to change the shape of the game with Rangers dominating against a Hearts side that showed why they had only won one game in their last nine and drawn their last five.

On 71 minutes Walter Smith made a couple of changes himself with El Hadji Diouf going on for Jelavic and there was a roar for Lee McCulloch as he jogged on to the pitch to take the place of Edu.

With Jonsson off Hearts did their best to keep it tight at the back but a shot on the turn from Steven Naismith cannoned off the post and with six minutes left Rangers bagged their fourth.

Diouf should have rolled the ball in to the empty net after MacDonald had palmed away a shot.

Instead the Senegalese star turned back and his cross was turned in by the unfortunate Stevenson.

The drama was not over yet as substitute David Healy, who had went on for Lafferty, smacked the post with an instinctive shot.

But in the end Rangers thoroughly deserved this emphatic victory and all the attention now turns to Tuesday night when Dundee United travel to Glasgow for Walter Smith’s final game in charge at Ibrox.

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