RANGERS first ever visit to BT Murrayfield ended in victory this afternoon thanks to a Kenny Miller double and a superb Josh Windass goal.
Led by caretaker manager Graeme Murty, Gers proved to be too strong for the Jambos over the 90 minutes in front of the Edinburgh club’s biggest home league attendance since 1975 of 32, 832 which was boosted by an incredible travelling support of over 14,000.
Given the events of the last 48 hours or so, Gers could have been forgiven for making a tentative start in the game, but there was no real sense of that at all with Murty’s men on the front foot early on.
Some indecision in the home defence saw them clear a ball only as far as Josh Windass on the edge of the box, but he shot over before James Tavernier sent Kenny Miller in behind the defence only for goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin to come out and deny him an attempt on goal.
A lightning Gers move saw Miller send Jason Holt away down the left wing, and he cut inside to shoot, but his effort found only the arms of McLaughlin.
Totally against the run of play however, Kyle Lafferty blasted Hearts into the lead with a stunning free-kick.
25-yards out from goal, the former Light Blues striker drove a wonderful effort into the top corner, well beyond the reach of Wes Foderingham.
It was a massive blow for the visitors, and it very nearly got worse straight from kick off with Esmael Goncalves slipping a ball between the Gers defence for Ross Callachan, but this time Foderingham was there with a superb stop at the feet of the midfield man.
At the other end, goalkeeper McLaughlin was fortunate to escape punishment after appearing to handle the ball outside of his area, with both referee Craig Thomson and his assistant waving play on.
Then, three minutes before the break, Rangers were level, and typically, it was Kenny Miller with the goal.
Ross McCrorie began the move, playing a superb ball out of defence for Alfredo Morelos. The Colombain then did exceptionally well to both hold-off and then turn Scotland defender Christophe Berra before playing the ball through for Miller to lift over McLaughlin and into the back of the net.
It was a deserved equaliser for Gers on the balance of play in the first half, although Hearts were close to going back in front ahead of the whistle, with Foderingham producing an excellent one-handed save to deny Harry Cochrane from 25-yards.
Into the second half, and again, Rangers began the better, with their first chance being Danny Wilson heading a Daniel Candeias corner over the bar, and they then followed that up by Holt playing in Windass, but he shot wide.
Candeias himself then brought out a decent save from McLaughlin with a shot from distance before Gers grabbed the lead for the first time in the game on 65 minutes – and yet again, it was Kenny Miller with the goal.
Out on the right hand wing, James Tavernier managed to wriggle himself some room for a cross – and what a cross it was – picking out Miller in the middle of the six-yard box and with a bullet header, the returning striker just couldn’t miss.
And it was to get even better for Rangers with 18 minutes left on the clock, as Josh Windass scored a stunning goal to put his side 3-1 ahead.
From midfield, Miller played a wonderful pass out to the right wing for Windass, and from there, he sprinted into the box, jinked away from Rafal Grzelak and beat McLaughlin at his near post.
It was simply stunning from Murty’s boys, and it almost got even better with Candeais bringing a decent save out of McLaughlin from distance after another decent break, and then the goalkeeper repeated the feat, this time denying Morelos from just inside the area.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, John, Wilson, Jack, Miller (Barjonas, 84) Windass (Hardie, 90), Morelos (Herrera, 87), Candeias, Holt, McCrorie.
SUBS NOT USED: Kelly, Hodson, Kranjcar, Bates.
HEARTS: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Walker (Milinkovic, 52), Lafferty, Callachan, Grzelak, Moore (Nowak, 69), Cochrane (Stockton 69), Goncalves.
SUBS NOT USED: Hamilton, Brandon, Henderson, McDonald.
REFEREE: Craig Thomson
ATTENDANCE: 32, 832 (14,104 away)