Rangers 2 Hearts 0: Boyd double backs up the bravado

Rangers striker shows manager his value
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The Independent Football

Kris Boyd backed up his audacity in challenging Paul Le Guen's authority by grabbing the two goals which secured the new Rangers manager's first win at Ibrox and supplanted Hearts at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

The Scotland striker publicly criticised Le Guen's decision to keep him on the bench so far this season, but he delivered on his first start of the campaign with a penalty and header inside three minutes of the second half.

Hearts came to Glasgow seeking an Old Firm double after beating Celtic - who can go top if they win today at Inverness - a fortnight ago, but now head to Greece trying to rescue their Champions' League ambitions against AEK Athens.

Le Guen reacted to unease at his start of the season by making four changes. The two players recruited on loan from Manchester United, Phil Bardsley and Lee Martin, were handed their first starts and the latter was particularly influential in the first half.

Martin's pace unhinged Hearts and his delivery from dead-ball situations saw him set up a plethora of chances. Boyd forced a save from Craig Gordon from one of Martin's free-kicks and then Dado Prso and Julien Rodriguez both headed two more of the teenager's set-ups over the crossbar.

Hearts did at least threaten when Bruno Aguiar's dipping free-kick was touched over the bar by goalkeeper Lionel Letizi.

Gordon's tale of resistance grew with some flawless acrobatics to twist and touch Boyd's header over but the Scotland goalkeeper surpassed everything just a minute before the interval when a Rangers counter-attack saw Chris Burke scoop a pass into Prso's path.

Gordon raced from his line and bravely blocked Prso and then saw Robbie Neilson rescue him by clearing off the line as Boyd drilled the rebound towards the unguarded net.

Any sense of frustration that Boyd felt disappeared within 30 seconds of the re-start. Prso's thrust down the left flank drew a foul from Robbie Neilson as he cut into the box. The penalty was swept past Gordon with confidence by Boyd, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

The young Scotland forward grabbed another goal just three minutes later, as he ghosted towards the back post to meet Martin's free-kick and guide a header beyond Gordon.

Prso could have stretched the lead for Rangers 20 minutes from the end only for his shot to thump against the bar. Yet matters got worse for the visitors when Neilson was sent off in stoppage time. Hearts had much to reflect on during their journey home to Edinburgh.