It was an all-too familiar story for Hearts on their travels as the Maroons went down 2-1 to Rangers with barely a whimper at Ibrox at Sunday lunchtime.
Head Coach Craig Levein was forced into one change from the team that defeated Aberdeen in Gorgie a fortnight ago – David Milinkovic was ruled out injured and was replaced by Danny Amankwaa.
Hearts record away from Tynecastle this season is nothing to shout about and their record at Ibrox is woeful. Therefore, it was no surprise – despite the clouds of crisis circulating Ibrox since their Scottish Cup hammering from Celtic seven days ago – to see the home side dominate the first half.
In the tenth minute Tavernier’s free-kick was blocked by Steven Naismith before Windass was allowed to run at the Hearts defence before feeding Murphy but the former Motherwell player’s shot on goal was wide.
In a rare foray forward, Steven Naismith picked up a loose pass from Rangers McCrorie, but the Hearts man’s effort was blocked by the recovering defender.
Martin then saw his header land on the roof of the net as an uninspiring first half drew to a close.
Half-time Rangers 0 Hearts 0
The home support’s spirits were lifted somewhat just two minutes into the second half when Murphy sped down the left wing to cross for Candeias who set up former Hibs striker Cummings to open the scoring.
Hearts had a half-chance to equalise when good play from Connor Randall saw a cross into the Rangers penalty box which was headed on by Naismith towards Kyle Lafferty. However, the former Rangers striker’s shot on goal was woefully weak and easily saved by Gers keeper Alnwick.
It was no surprise when Rangers doubled their lead in the 64th minute. The ever-dangerous Murphy crossed for the unmarked Candeias who headed past Jon McLaughlin from close range.
The Hearts goalie then saved smartly from Windass before Hearts dragged themselves back in the game with a goal 20 minutes from the end. Hearts sub Lewis Moore was fouled by Tavernier. From Don Cowie’s free-kick, captain Christophe Berra headed home.
Hearts keeper Jon McLaughlin then spared substitute Joaquim Adao’s blushes when he saved from Windass after Adao had given the ball away.
Shortly after, Lafferty went close with a shot which hit the post. But, if truth be told, Hearts deserved nothing from a game during which they had just three shots on target.
Another trip to Ibrox, another pitiful performance from Craig Levein’s side.
Rangers: Alnwick Tavernier, John, Dorrans, Windass (Halliday, 76′), Candeias (O’Halloran, 90′), Holt, Cummings (Morelos, 85′), Murphy, Martin, McCrorie.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Souttar, Berra, Hughes (Henderson, 80′), Randall, Cowie, Smith, Godinho (Moore, 59′), Amankwaa (Adao, 55′), Naismith, Lafferty.
Referee: Craig Thomson
Top man: Really?