Rangers have moved five points clear of Celtic in the Premiership title race after a comprehensive victory over Hearts at Ibrox. Goals from Mohamed Diomande, Oscar Cortes and Cyriel Dessers had Philippe Clement's side in control at the break. Dessers and Fabio Silva netted after the interval.

Celtic have the chance to reduce the arrears when they travel to face Motherwell on Sunday. That will matter little to Clement, though. His mantra has been one game at a time and focus on ourselves. In that regard, he had to be thrilled with what he witnessed here. This was a statement of intent from Rangers.

Relentless Rangers rack up the goals

It has been quite the week for Diomande. The Ivorian opened his account for Rangers with a superb strike in the win at St Johnstone. Here, he doubled his tally in stunning fashion. This time, he controlled the ball, a pass from Cortes, with his right and then angled a low effort across Zander Clark. It was another moment of real quality. Questions had been raised by some about why a midfielder was recruited during January but Diomande is already proving why Rangers were so eager to bring him to Ibrox.

The arrival of Cortes late in the window was the final bit of business that Clement completed. Little was known about the Colombian but he has made an eye-catching impression so far and the goal that he scored here had been coming. Starting on the left side, Cortes was a constant threat either going down the line or coming into the pitch. A low finish that curled around the despairing Clark was clinical and accomplished and came at a time when the second goal was required for Rangers.

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The third put the seal on a stunning first half. The only positive for Hearts was that they were not further behind after Clark made a series of stops to deny Dessers, James Tavernier, Dujon Sterling and Ridvan Yilmaz. He could do nothing about a fine finish from Dessers, however, as the Nigerian got on the end of a terrific John Souttar pass that evaded the entire Jambos defence.

The reaction from Clement in the aftermath of the fourth goal was telling. Dessers had found the roof of the net after a scramble in the area and the shine had been added to the scoreline. Clement wanted more. He cajoled his side from the technical area, knowing full well that there were more goals to be plundered from a dominant showing. Silva duly obliged with a lovely finish across Clark into the far corner. Once again, Clement encouraged Rangers to go for more. This was a relentless Rangers at their best.

Chris Jack

Lawrence takes over playmaker role

Fans would have feared the worst when they saw Todd Cantwell replaced at McDiarmid Park and then have an icepack applied to his leg. Their concerns were well founded. The news that Cantwell faces up to four weeks out of action came as a real blow for Rangers and supporters will hope that his absence doesn’t prove to be costly during a hugely significant run at home and abroad.

Clement was philosophical about it all pre-match. He would have been disappointed, of course, but his emotions were perhaps tempered by the knowledge of what he had in reserve. With Cantwell out, Clement will need someone else to come to the fore. The question of who was answered when the teams lined up and Lawrence filled the spot ahead of Diomande and John Lundstram.

The Welshman has been an impressive performer in a deeper role of late but this was a task that certainly suited his talents. A slack pass early on to Cortes saw Rangers fail to make the most of a promising opening, while another towards Dujon Sterling was just intercepted. It was a sign of Lawrence’s willingness to make things happen, though, and he was always looking to get involved behind Dessers or advance beyond the striker. He got the assist his first half showing merited as he moved down the right channel and picked out Cortes with a low pass across the edge of the box.

Lawrence looked gutted when his number flashed up on the board alongside that of Silva. He had a lengthy chat and embrace with his manager before taking a seat. His job was done for the afternoon. Once again, it had been done very well.

Chris Jack

Additional reading...

Cyriel Dessers is rewriting Rangers story, here's how

Brainwashing, smiles & psychology: How Clement tells his Rangers story with ex-assistant 

Meet Philippe Clement: A workaholic, proven-winner according to those who know him

What two wins over Hearts represent 

No fixture mirrors the sheer scope of change Philippe Clement has ushered in at Ibrox quite like Hearts at home, for many reasons. When Steven Naismith’s side visited during the Belgian’s second league match on October 29 it took the definition of an injury time comeback to keep the title race alive. Who could’ve forseen the lay of the land four months later. Rangers, then, were anxious but today played a game that was emphatic. The relationship with their home crowd has done a 180. Hearts travelled to Glasgow in their best league form for a decade - not that you’d have known. This is the most exuberant Ibrox has been domestically in years and they’re mirroring the energy of the team on the pitch. Rangers were rampant today, never satisfied with their lead and that epitomises the job Clement has done to date. They weren’t in the title race when he arrived - now they’re leading it.

Joshua Barrie

Ibrox feelgood factor in full flow

Clement addressed the importance of the Ibrox crowd on Friday and the Belgian is well aware of the role that those in the stands will have over the coming weeks. Every game is a big game these days, but this one had a different feeling around it. Supporters gathered from hours before kick-off and there was an air of excitement and expectancy around Ibrox.

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The rendition of ‘The Best’ was louder than it has been for most of the campaign as flags were flown in the Broomloan. Before that, guitarist Keir Mitchell had the microphone for four tunes. The passing of Light Blues legend Ian McMillan was marked with a minute of applause. Seconds later, Ibrox was united in celebration and a chorus of ‘we shall not be moved’ followed the opener from Diomande.

When Cortes made it 2-0, it was ‘we’re going to win the league’ that was given an airing. It has been rare this term for all four stands to be heard at once but that was the case here. The synergy that Clement has referenced so often was clear to see and hear once again. Ibrox was in fine voice. A side that were repeatedly booed and jeered off the park earlier in the term were given a rapturous reception at the interval as they returned to the dressing room with a three goal lead.

The party continued throughout the second half. Clement has restored the confidence within the squad and allowed fans to believe in those they had written off. The Belgian won’t allow his players to get ahead of themselves. Ibrox can dare to dream.

Chris Jack

Shankland kept at arms length

So many words were said and written about Lawrence Shankland over the course of the January window. Many expected him to be lining up in blue for this fixture but a deal was never pursued by Clement. It is not because he doesn’t respect Shankland’s qualities, though. Indeed, he had spoken positively about the impact that the Scotland striker has had this season at his pre-match press conference and he was fully aware of the threat that Hearts could cause.

The visitors responded well to losing an early opener and found themselves in promising positions on a couple of occasions. They lacked quality in the final third. Shankland was largely isolated and marginalised and a shot that was blocked midway through the half was his only real threat. On the stroke of half-time, he perhaps let his frustration get the better of him as a late lunge on Lawrence was rightly punished with a yellow card.

The fact that many Hearts fans headed for the M8 at the interval said it all. Shankland gave Jack Butland a save to make with a low strike from distance but it was never going to trouble the keeper or change the course of proceedings. With 12 minutes remaining, he was replaced by Scott Fraser. 

Chris Jack