Rangers took a step towards clinching second place in the Scottish Premier League with victory against Scottish Cup finalists Hearts.

Sone Aluko's superbly struck free-kick gave Rangers the lead on 29 minutes.

Andy Little was credited with the visitors' second six minutes later, although Hearts' Andy Webster appeared to get the final touch.

Craig Beattie's penalty for Hearts cannoned off the bar before Little tapped home a late third for Rangers.

Rhys McCabe, Andy Little and Sone Aluko

Little (centre) and Aluko (right) were on target for Rangers at Tynecastle

Ally McCoist's side move 11 points clear of Motherwell, who host Celtic on Sunday, while sixth-place Hearts' hopes of securing a European place through the league take a blow, with Paulo Sergio's men four points off Dundee United in fourth.

Lee McCulloch's shot on the turn was straight into the hands of Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and Webster then made an important block as Kyle Bartley threatened for the Ibrox outfit.

However, the visitors moved into the lead after Webster was adjudged to have fouled Maurice Edu and Aluko swept his shot up and over the wall, beating MacDonald's despairing dive.

The Hearts defence continued to come under pressure and MacDonald made an excellent save to turn away McCulloch's shot from Steven Whittaker's cutback.

And the hosts were undone again as Lee Wallace's cross bounced up off Little and a combination of the forward's sliced shot and Webster's attempted clearance carried the ball over MacDonald into the net.

Rangers keeper Allan McGregor saved at the feet of Skacel and Beattie dragged an effort wide as Hearts pressed at the start of the second half.

Webster was then afforded a chance at a corner, the defender drilling a shot off the base of the post on its way out.

Skacel's powerful strike was matched by McGregor's reaction save shortly before Aluko's trip on David Templeton resulted in a Hearts penalty.

Beattie, who converted from 12 yards to clinch victory in last week's Scottish semi-final against Celtic, smacked his latest spot-kick attempt off the crossbar and the pressure on the Rangers defence was relieved when Gary Glen could not connect with a back-post cross.

And the visitors added to their tally when Whittaker released Wallace in behind the Hearts defence and the full-back chipped the ball over MacDonald to Little, who touched the ball into the empty net.

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