Steven Gerrard demands strong finish after Rangers win at Hearts

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard
Image: Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is calling for a strong close to the season from his team

Steven Gerrard wants his Rangers team to lay down a marker for next season after seeing them record a comfortable 3-1 victory at Hearts.

The Ibrox side were deserved winners against the Scottish Cup finalists as goals from Jermain Defoe, Ryan Jack and Nikola Katic denied Celtic the chance to win the title at Hibernian on Sunday.

Rangers remain eight points behind their Old Firm rivals but chairman Dave King said this week he felt the club was within "tangible reach" of becoming Scotland's dominant team once again.

Gerrard feels his squad will only progress with further backing in the transfer market - and wants his current pool to set a tone to take beyond the summer into the new campaign.

He said: "We owe it to our supporters to give them four strong performances from now until the end of the season.

Ryan Jack celebrates with teammates after scoring to make it 2-0
Image: Ryan Jack's fourth goal of the season put Rangers 2-0 up at Tynecastle Park

"We rewarded the support today, which was excellent. People came in their numbers again and we gave them a performance to be proud of. That's the message until the end of the season.

"We've under-achieved at certain times this season and we've done well at times but the fans are owed four strong performances from the boys.

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"Consistency is a word that's come up a lot. At times we've taken three or four steps forward and then our performance hasn't been good enough to go on a run of winning games.

"Aberdeen are up next, which will be tough. They've had some joy and success against us over the season so we'll have to find another performance that's good enough to keep this run going.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard
Image: Gerrard was impressed with the aggression shown by his team in Edinburgh

"When we become capable of stringing a lot of wins together, that's when we will challenge for certain things."

As much as Hearts were poor off the back of their semi-final win against Inverness last week at Hampden, Rangers were very good in Edinburgh as they turned in an accomplished display.

Their midfield, in particular, allowed them to dictate play as a clean sweep of victories against the Craig Levein's team was completed.

Gerrard added: "We stood up to Hearts in every single department and when our moments came - which we knew they would - we played some excellent football.

Nikola Katic celebrates after scoring to make it 3-0
Image: Nikola Katic scored his first league goal for Rangers in a convincing victory

"We executed our good play really well. We are at our best when we are aggressive in and out of possession. We knew Hearts would give us the ball back in certain areas of the pitch.

"It was down to us to show the quality we needed to do to go and score goals and we could maybe have scored another couple today.

"We're disappointed not to get a clean sheet. They caused us problems down our right side in the second half which we need to improve on but in the main, it's a really strong away performance."

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