Rangers showed no Old Firm hangover as they cut the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership to one point with a dominant victory over Hearts at Ibrox.
Alfredo Morelos was back in the starting XI after international duty and had the Ibrox side ahead after just 11 minutes, firing in from Ryan Kent’s cross.
The Colombia striker added a second after half-time as he curled a left-footed shot in from the edge of the box.
Rangers were rampant and limited Hearts to few chances on goal.
Glen Kamara made it 3-0 just minutes after coming on to the pitch, with Scott Arfield and Fashion Sakala also scoring a crazy ten minute spell.
The result sees Rangers cut the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership back to one point after Celtic beat Motherwell earlier in the day.
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s side came in for heavy criticism following their midweek capitulation to Celtic and the Dutchman made four changes with Morelos, defender Leon Balogun and midfielder John Lundstram coming in along with playmaker Ryan Jack, who made his first start since February 2021.
Hearts defender John Souttar, who has signed a pre-contract with Rangers which will see him switch to Ibrox in the summer, was not even named among the substitutes as Aaron McEneff and Alex Cochrane replaced Ellis Simms and Andy Halliday.
McEneff made an early impact, blocking Joe Aribo’s first-minute header from a James Tavernier corner and, after Balogun had headed the second corner over the bar, he robbed Gers defender Calvin Bassey then drove just wide of the target at the other end.
Ryan Kent curled a shot just past Craig Gordon’s left-hand post before the former Celtic goalkeeper saved a drive from Morelos.
However, the Colombian was not to be denied a second time as he knocked in a cut-back from Kent, who had raced on to a defence-splitting pass from Bassey.
The home side had the upper hand and, in the 24th minute, a wonderful move with Morelos and Kent ended with the latter curling another shot past the far post.
Rangers fans screamed for a penalty in the 35th minute when Nathaniel Atkinson looked to have grabbed Kent’s shirt inside the box but referee Willie Collum was unimpressed.
Gordon saved Morelos’ effort from the edge of the box to finish the first-half action and, after Simms was introduced in place of McEneff at the start of the second half, the visitors missed two quick chances to level.
Atkinson got in behind Bassey to send a Stephen Kingsley cross past the post and then, when the Rangers left-back was short with a headed pass back to Allan McGregor, Jambos midfielder Cammy Devlin lobbed the ball wide of the target.
As the match became increasingly tetchy, Jambos boss Robbie Neilson was booked by Collum, presumably for something said to the fourth official Andrew Dallas.
Morelos’ second goal came when he tried to play in Scott Arfield but his pass broke off Kingsley and back into his path and, from the edge of the box, he curled the ball past Gordon and into the far corner of the net.
Moments later, the Ibrox striker had a chance of a hat-trick when he powered through the Gorgie defence but drove straight at Gordon before McGregor denied Barrie McKay at the other end.
In the 71st minute, Morelos took a pass from Aribo and moved it on to Kamara, on for Jack, and he wrong-footed chasing Alex Cochrane before blasting the ball past Gordon.
Arfield then hammered in a fourth from 16 yards in the 74th minute before Aaron Ramsey, the deadline-day loan signing from Juventus, replaced him to make his Rangers debut, with Sakala also coming on for Aribo and the striker converted a Kent pass in the 84th minute to seal a convincing performance.
What the managers said
Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst was delighted with his players’ reactions to their Old Firm defeat
“It’s a big win for us, especially the way we won today and the attitude we showed from minute one.
“It’s a good reaction and I’m really happy we won this game.
“We know his (Alfredo Morelos) qualities and what he can bring to the team, a lot of threat up front. We knew he was going to give us that bit extra up front to give us more threat and he showed that today.
“The key is to keep performing game in, game out. If we keep this energy and determination in every game we’re going to have a good chance.”
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson wants his players to reach the next level
“We lost the second goal and we just seemed to capitulate, it shows you where we are at the moment.
“We’re a good team, a very good team, but to get to that level we need to improve.
“Disappointing day but the only way we can remedy it is to win on Wednesday night.”
Rangers are at home again on Wednesday night against Hibernian. Hearts take on bottom side Dundee at Tynecastle on the same night.