It was a sore afternoon for Austin MacPhee in his first game as interim Hearts boss, losing 3-0 to Rangers at Hampden.
A defensive gameplan almost saw his side go into half time at 0-0, but a Filip Helander effort put Rangers ahead at a vital time. It was defensive lapse in concentration that cost the Tynecastle side for the first goal and they weren’t at it for the second Gers goal either.
Alfredo Morelos pounced on a cross ball after the defence switched off again, doubling Rangers’ lead and putting the game out of sight. Morelos’ second was insult to injury.
Here are three things we learned.
MacPhee’s defensive plan
From the very off it was clear that Hearts had no intention to fully attack Rangers. The plan was to sit tight and wait for reinforcements on the counter come the second half.
They were frustrating Rangers with this method but Helander’s strike had them back at the drawing board for a quick half time rethink.
Even after the restart they didn’t throw much caution to the wind, despite being a goal down in a cup semi-final, which may frustrate fans following the result.
Overall the Jambos didn’t challenge Rangers and as a result, they have been eliminated from the League Cup.
Wighton makes a surprise return
For the first time this season Craig Wighton started for Hearts. With the likes of Uche Ikpeazu benched, it was a surprise to see Wighton make the starting XI.
Due to MacPhee’s defensive gameplan, the former Dundee striker didn’t get a chance to impress. He was left isolated up top, only managing to show flashes of pace on a few occasions.
Wighton failed to make a real impact on proceedings at Hampden, but to be fair, the gameplan didn’t exactly play into his hands.
Hearts’ injury woes mount at Hampden
Steven Naismith made his return from injury against his former side, but despite this, bodies were added to the Hearts injury list.
Glenn Whelan departed with what looked like a hamstring problem in the first half before Michael Smith limped off in the second.
It’s another two players to add to an injury list that already contains the likes of Peter Haring, Ben Garuccio, John Souttar, Jake Mulraney, Craig Halkett and Conor Washington.
Smith and Whelan have been two massive players for the Jambos this season and fans will be praying that it isn’t more serious injury woe.