GRAEME MURTY praised his Rangers players for bouncing back from their Celtic hammering to beat Hearts 2-1 in the Premiership at Ibrox this afternoon.

The caretaker gaffer admitted it had been a difficult week for all at the club following the 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final hiding from the Hoops at Hampden.

Alfredo Morelos and Greg Docherty clashed in the tunnel after the game and both were dropped to the bench for the visit of Craig Levein’s team.

However, there was a late subs’ appearance for Andy Halliday who blew up against Celtic when he was taken off before the interval.

The troubled Govan outfit got it right, though, this time out with goals from Jason Cummings and Daniel Candeias while the Tynecastle visitors got a consolation effort from Christophe Berra.

There was a lot of tension throughout the stadium with home supporters sharing their thoughts with two banners criticising the players and board while the Union Bears held a silent protest throughout the game.

Murty said: “The circumstances were difficult. In the game, in the stadium and I asked the players to stick together and delivery intensity throughout the game, and be brave in their play.

“It wasn’t perfect, but there were good signs of the kind of characters we bring to the game and they managed to handle it.

“Apart from some wasteful finishing – and some last-ditch defending – I thought we could have been out of sight.

“I said to the players: ‘You’re going to do something. You’re going to have to generate the atmosphere, generate it through quality, run through a brick wall if you have to, fly into tackles, be brave physically to hit people in challenges, be brave to take the ball under pressure, be brave to get on it after you made a mistake’.

“And I thought it was telling that although people misplaced passes, no-one hid. No-one went to a position they couldn’t receive the ball. We need to move it faster at times.

“I counted 27 goalscoring opportunities today and that wouldn’t have put us into the edgier part of the game when we conceded.

“We managed to keep the ball better. I was going mad at one stage because Jamie Murphy whipped a corner straight into the keeper’s hands when I would have preferred it played short.

“But, in the heat of the battle sometimes, that’s the decisions you wouldn’t do if you were thinking about it. However, I’ve got to back the players and give them massive credit.

“I thought they stood up brilliantly today and it’ll do themselves the world of good after a difficult week.

“I said to them if you come through this week and you come out of it positively then you’ll be more confident, I know I will be.

“We needed a response, it was difficult last week, we were upset that we didn’t represent ourselves or the club in the right manner.”

* Murty was speaking to Rangers TV.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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