Hearts pulled off an incredible result by beating Rangers 2-1 at Tynecastle, a huge result in their quest for survival.
New signings Toby Sibbick and Liam Boyce were given Gorgie debut against the Gers. The latter had the ball in the net 15 minutes in but it was ruled out for offside.
Positive work in the first half threatened to come undone within two minutes of the second half restart. Ryan Kent fired Rangers in front after a cross by Borna Barisic. Steven Naismith was on hand though to level for the Jambos.
Boyce made himself a Gorgie hero as he netted a winner in the final stages of the match. It’s an enormous result which affects the title race, but more importantly for Hearts, puts them three points away from safety.
Here are three things we learned.
Daniel Stendel’s second striker signing of the window looks to be Hearts’ focal point. Yes, it’s only one game, but the early signs for Boyce in maroon look very positive indeed.
The winning goal will grab all the headlines but he was more than that. He linked play well and gave Hearts someone to go through in forward areas, grabbing an assist for Naismith’s leveller.
It was an extremely encouraging display and it’ll be good to see what Boyce is capable of at full steam.
Stendel’s methods coming across
Throughout this game, Stendel’s gegenpressing was evident. Hearts pressed Rangers whenever they got the opportunity to, not allowing the Gers to settle in possession of the ball.
It allowed Stendel’s side to stop any rhythm the Gers were trying to build. It helped them earn a brilliant victory and showed fans how effective this system is when utilised correctly.
The tide is turning
Over the past four games, there have been positives for Hearts. They were extremely unlucky not to beat Aberdeen before the winter break, thumped Airdrie in the cup and were a goalscorer away from a precious three points away to Ross County.
Against Rangers a similar record was played, only with a happier ending. A fruitful first half was built on and Stendel got his rewards for weeks of perseverance and tinkering with the Hearts team.
The tide is beginning to turn in Gorgie and this will fast-track that. Slowly but surely, performances are beginning to indicate Hearts can fire themselves out of the bottom two. This is a big step in the right direction.