Philippe Clement has a chance to win silverware for Rangers before Christmas after defeating Heart of Midlothian in the League Cup semi-final. Clement, who took over from Michael Beale last month, had reason to reflect on how wonderfully straightforward it was.
On paper, James Tavernier was the key to Rangers’ victory. The captain scored the first goal with a penalty and converted a free kick for number three. However, a closer look reveals that Hearts put in a shockingly negative performance that gave Rangers plenty of room for error. Steven Naismith’s team has taken containment to a new level. Once the Rangers broke the deadlock, the result appeared to be a formality.
After an initially negative first half, the score was even. Rangers made the breakthrough within five minutes of the restart when Danilo went down under a challenge from Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark. Tavernier did the rest from 12 yards.
Scott Wright, a half-time substitute, doubled Rangers’ lead after Danilo played the winger in. Hearts’ defense, meanwhile, was terribly stubborn. Kye Rowles embodied this by engaging with Sam Lammers illegally. Tavernier flicked the free kick over the wall and past the stranded Clark.
Hearts claimed a late consolation. Nick Walsh, the referee, was unnecessarily quick to issue a second yellow card to Hearts defender Stephen Kingsley after he was caught in the penalty area by Ben Davies. A VAR review confirmed that Kingsley had not dived; Lawrence Shankland reduced the arrears.
That ended the scoring and Rangers were content to keep Hearts at bay. Aberdeen are lurking at Hampden Park next month.