Abdallah Sima’s 12th Rangers goal ensured manager Philippe Clement’s unbeaten start stretched to 11 games with a Scottish Premiership victory at Hearts.

Fresh off scoring a double against St Mirren on Sunday, the on-loan Brighton striker raced on to a defence-splitting James Tavernier pass and finished past home goalkeeper Zander Clark.

A 10th win in 11 meetings against Hearts, who remain third, means Rangers stay eight points behind leaders Celtic with a game to spare.

Prior to the opener, Rangers offered Hearts hope with some slack play as Lawrence Shankland forced Jack Butland into a fine near-post stop before Alex Cochrane’s rebound was somehow blocked on the line by captain Tavernier.

But Clement’s side improved after their goal and could have gone into the break two up when Danilo, who had an earlier finish ruled out for offside, was denied just yards out by the boot of Clark at close range.

Rangers ought to have killed the game by the 70th minute, but Danilo could only hit Kyosuke Tagawa on the line after Clark inexplicably spilled before Ridvan Yilmaz flashed two efforts off target either side of a close-range Connor Goldson header.

Kenneth Vargas could have made the wasteful visitors pay for their profligacy, but Butland emphasised his importance to the Ibrox side with another top save to his left.

Butland highlights value but attacking concerns linger – analysis

Clement’s reaction at the full-time whistle said it all. Yes, he will have gripe about his attack spurning a load of opportunities again, but the Belgian knows how big a win this was for his side.

On nights like this, you need your goalkeeper to be your safety net and Butland provided that again. The standout summer signing has been integral in Rangers boasting the Premiership’s best defensive record this term.

Conceding just seven times in 15 fixtures is a very impressive return, with just two of those goals coming on the road in eight games.

If Naismith could turn back the clock, would he decide to inject more pace into his attack from kick-off?

Hearts could have perhaps capitalised on Rangers’ sloppy early play with more speed in their frontline. A counter-attacking situation in the first half highlighted that as Shankland looked to race clear but instead had to shoot from distance with a lack of support either side.

Naismith will also have concerns about the other end. Rangers’ goal was far too easy and on another night they could have bagged plenty.

But the Hearts boss will be buoyed by the comebacks of key trio Craig Gordon, Craig Halkett and Barrie McKay, who was the only one to make a return off the bench.

Rangers, meanwhile, will be fearing another injury lay-off for Tom Lawrence after the midfielder had to be removed from the action in the first half.

Source: BBC

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