02 Feb Hearts hammer Gers
Hearts claimed their biggest victory over Rangers in 21 years as the Ibrox men were blown away 4-1 at Tynecastle.
Not since Allan Johnstone grabbed a Govan hat-trick back in January 1996 had the Jambos routed the Light Blues by three goals.
But the hungry hosts devoured every mistake made by Mark Warburton’s shambolic Gers back-line as they dished out a remarkable thrashing.
Krystian Nowak’s fourth minute opener was cancelled out by Emerson Hyndman’s second goal in as many games.
But Jamie Walker’s second-half double either side of Don Cowie’s tap-in sealed a precious victory for under pressure Jambos boss Ian Cathro.
It is just his third win since replacing Robbie Neilson but ensures his team stay in fourth place.
Rangers also cling on to second place but Mark Warburton will face more questions over his management after his defence imploded in a fashion similar to September’s 5-1 Old Firm disaster.
The Light Blues were left rocking by the raucous atmosphere on their last visit to Gorgie back in November and they were soon quaking this time as the hosts exploded out the blocks.
Barrie McKay’s failure to work back allowed Cowie to find Andraz Struna out wide, with the Slovenian full-back hung a high cross into the box.
It should have been Rob Kiernan’s ball but he stood watching as Nowak looped his header into the top corner.
Hearts were pumped up and flew at Rangers at every opportunity. The relentless Esmael Goncalves almost robbed Wes Foderingham as the keeper dallied on the ball while Malaury Martin twice went close with free-kicks.
Gers finally created a chance after 15 minutes as Jack Hamilton turned away Martyn Waghorn’s low strike but the Tynecastle faithful were finally being treated to the kind of Hearts display Cathro has been envisioning since taking over two months ago.
But they failed to build on that positive start and allowed Rangers’ ragged troops to catch a breath.
Hamilton bailed out Nowak after his horror back-pass was intercepted by Waghorn while McKay snapped a thunderous strike a fraction wide.
And having been forced to cling on for dear life during that frantic start, Gers found themselves level after 36 minutes.
James Tavernier put a corner right on top of Hamilton and under pressure the keeper could only punch it down to the arriving Hyndman, with the American lashing into the top corner.
But having taken their time getting started, Gers switched off again within four minutes of the restart.
Andy Halliday was slow turning after collecting Foderingham’s throw and by the time he looked up, Walker had robbed possession and rifled a stunning drive low past the keeper.
And bad became worse four minutes later when Martin’s quick free-kick sent Bjorn Johnsen baring down on Clint Hill. The big striker easily drove past the veteran defender before sending the ball across goal for Cowie to tuck home.
Hearts did not stop there, though, heaping more misery on their guests after 64 minutes when Walker slotted into an empty net after Foderingham came for the winger’s cross, only to spill it back at his feet.
Substitute Harry Forrester thought he had pulled one back with 18 minutes left but there was no consolation as his close-range effort was ruled out for offside.
Hearts wanted more but two stunning Foderingham stops prevents Walker and Lennard Sowah rubbing further salt into Gers wounds.