Rangers 2-1 Hearts: Barrie McKay seals victory at Ibrox
By Andy Swales
Last Updated: 15/05/17 5:48pm
Barrie McKay grabbed a second-half winner as Rangers made certain of finishing no lower than third in the Scottish Premiership table, thanks to a 2-1 victory over Hearts.
The visitors had to play for over an hour with 10 men, after Prince Buaben was sent-off for a professional foul.
Rangers can, theoretically, still overhaul second-placed Aberdeen - providing there was a huge swing in goal difference - but more realistically the result means they are no longer under threat from St Johnstone in fourth.
And the hosts needed just seven minutes to open the scoring, punishing Hearts with a quick-fire break upfield which ended with Kenny Miller delivering an excellent cross to the far post where Joe Garner dived to head the hosts in front.
At the other end, Don Cowie forced keeper Wes Foderingham into a good save as Hearts chased an immediate equaliser.
In a typical end-to-end Scottish Premiership fixture, Malaury Martin curled a long-range free-kick inches over Foderingham's bar while debutant keeper Viktor Noring did well to deny Garner following some dreadful Hearts defending.
Hearts were reduced to 10-men on 26, when Buaben dragged down Josh Windass, and referee Bobby Madden did not hesitate to pull out a red card.
The visitors were in-debt to another Noring save shortly before the break, denying David Bates who rose high to meet a Windass cross, while Clint Hill headed against a post as the first half drew to a close.
Rangers dominated the early stages of the second half before being caught on the counter-attack, as Hearts drew level with 50 minutes on the clock.
Bjorn Johnsen advanced quickly into the Rangers' box before finding the unmarked Isma Goncalves who had the simple task of beating Foderingham from 10 yards
However, Edinburgh joy lasted barely 90 seconds as Rangers reclaimed the lead when McKay crashed home a loose ball from 12 yards, after Noring had failed with two attempts to deal with a high James Tavernier cross.
With the game switching from one end of the pitch to the other, Johnsen hit a tame effort at Foderingham, while a fierce Jon-Miquel Toral effort was pushed away by a diving Noring.
As Rangers sought a third goal to kill of the plucky visitors, Tavernier headed over from 10 yards, with Martyn Waghorn missing a great chance in injury time when one-on-one with the Hearts keeper.
The defeat means Hearts have now won just once in eight games, while Rangers are left 36 points adrift of runaway champions Celtic.