12.12.2021 19:42 h

Rangers see off Hearts to stay clear of Celtic

Alfredo Morelos and Joe Aribo fired Rangers to a 2-0 win at Hearts on Sunday as the Scottish Premiership leaders maintained a four-point lead over rivals Celtic, who beat Motherwell 1-0.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst's strong start since replacing Steven Gerrard as Rangers boss continued at Tynecastle thanks to two goals inside the opening 13 minutes.

Third-placed Hearts had beaten Celtic at home earlier in the season and held Rangers at Ibrox when the sides met in October.

However, their hopes of another upset to close the gap on the top two came and went with Liam Boyce's chance to open the scoring after just three minutes that was tipped over by Allan McGregor.

Rangers were more clinical with their first chance of the match when Ryan Kent's cross reached Fashion Sakala and the Zambian cut the ball back to Morelos, who fired home from six yards out.

The second goal came just moments later when Aribo ran on to a brilliant long diagonal from Connor Goldson and fired an angled low shot beyond the exposed Craig Gordon.

"You can see, the more we train and the more we talk with each other, the better we become," said Van Bronckhorst. "We still have a lot of things to do and to work on, but we have time and I am really happy with the past weeks."

The visitors had a let-off early in the second half when Calvin Bassey knocked a Ginnelly cross off the underside of his own crossbar and Stephen Kingsley also cracked a free kick off the bar for Hearts.

But the home side's frustrations boiled over 10 minutes from time when Josh Ginnelly was sent off after being shown a second yellow card for squaring up to Borna Barisic.

Celtic kept up the pressure on their Glasgow rivals by stretching their unbeaten run in domestic football to 13 games.

Tom Rogic got the only goal of a dominant performance at Celtic Park when the Australian stroked home David Turnbull's free-kick in first half stoppage time.

Ange Postecoglou was forced to start without a recognised striker due to Celtic's injury crisis and that lack of cutting edge was in evidence as they laboured to put the game beyond Motherwell's reach.

But one goal was enough for a ninth win in 10 league games.

"We certainly had opportunities to make it more comfortable and when you don't take those, you give the opposition the chance to hang in there," said Postecoglou.

"I thought we handled it well. It was an important victory for us in the middle of a hectic schedule."