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Muirhead at the double as Hearts ease past Rangers

Hearts 2 - Rangers 0

By Ronnie Esplin

Robbie Muirhead's first goals for Hearts gave them a convincing 2-0 home win over Rangers and allowed the hosts to leapfrog the Ibrox side into second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

In what was expected to be head coach Robbie Neilson's last game in charge before joining MK Dons, the 20-year-old forward notched for the first time since signing in the summer just a minute before the break with a drive.

The former Dundee United player added a second with a tap-in on the hour mark as the Gorgie side controlled the second half.

Rangers needed stoppage-time goals in their last two games against Partick Thistle and Dundee to give them victory but this time there was no way back.

They finished well beaten and facing another inquest after another uninspiring performance, notwithstanding plenty of effort, while the home fans chanted for their boss in the closing stages as they cruised to victory.

However, the Hearts head coach refused to confirm he would be moving to the English League One side, saying: "What will be will be."

Asked if it was just a case of Hearts and MK Dons agreeing a fee to allow for his release, former Hearts defender Neilson said: "There are discussions at the moment but I don't want it to be about me.

"It is about Robbie Muirhead, a boy who was at Kilmarnock, Dundee United, drifting about, Partick Thistle, boys like that who come here to a good environment and encouragement from the fans and scores two goals.

"I will be back in tomorrow morning and what will be will be. It is not about me, it is about the players and the club getting second in the league, following recent relegation and the long journey, it is phenomenal for the whole club."

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill's presence in the crowd in his adopted city will fuel speculation he could succeed Neilson but it is unlikely Hearts could meet the Irish FA's £750,000 compensation expectation.

Before kick-off there was a minute's silence in tribute to the Chapecoense football side's aeroplane tragedy with both sides wearing black armbands.

Hearts piled forward from the kick-off and Jambos duo Muirhead and Jamie Walker squandered early free-kicks from around the 25-yard mark before Rangers right-back James Tavernier cleared the bar in the 14th minute with a drive from the same distance. In the 36th minute Rangers keeper Wes Foderingham parried a Callum Paterson drive from 25 yards before he made two fine saves, both from headers by striker Bjorn Johnsen. Thus, there was no surprise when the home forged ahead.

Rangers appeared to have repelled another maroon attack but when Johnsen curled a pass to the back post Muirhead steered the ball past Foderingham.

Dodoo had the ball into the Hearts net in the 52nd minute after Jack Hamilton had parried from Kenny Miller but an offside flag for Forrester, who was in the line of the keeper, ruined the celebrations.

Hearts got their second when Muirhead arrived at the back post to knock a Walker cross into the net. There was a shout for a Hearts penalty when Rangers substitute Michael O'Halloran tangled with defender Faycal Rherras. However, referee Craig Thomson ignored the pleas and after Rherras cleared a Garner header off the line in the final minute, the sound of the final whistle delighted the Tynecastle fans and distressed those in Light Blue.

Belfast Telegraph


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