Rangers stagger to victory in the capital city


Rangers were missing several key players today and had to play without the banned Sone Aluko as they looked to improve on recent performances which have seen the Ibrox side struggle to score in open play, but they looked keen from the kick off and dominated the first-half possession but were held at bay by the strong looking Hibs defence.

Lewis Stevenson was the first to seriously threaten with a strike at goal for Hibs. His 20-yard effort was low, but flashed across the turf in front of the goal.

Rangers were unfortunate to have Lee Wallace pulled back for offside as the full-back was found in acres of space after a fine Gregg Wylde through ball.

Leigh Griffiths missed the best opportunity of the first half as he shot tamely straight at McGregor from inside the penalty area despite being unmarked.

Ivan Sproule had worked hard with his cutback which was poorly dealt with by Lee Wallace and the ball ran through to Griffiths who failed to capitalise at the end of a dire half of football.

Sproule had the last chance before the break, but his long-range effort sailed wide of the woodwork as the whistle sounded and the players headed back inside from the cold.

The game moved up a gear in the second half and became much more entertaining. Hibs came out of the dressing room and immediately continued on from the first half performance. A series of dangerous crosses were played into the box as Rangers struggled to cope with the passion and energy the Hibs team were seeping.

Bendiksen was introduced in place of the highly disappointing Kyle Bartley in a move which changed the game. The Norwegian midfielder who made his first start the week before brought creativity to the Glasgow side, something which they were lacking in the first half and which was needed to break down a spirited Hibernian defence. And it was that man Bendiksen who was involved in the first Rangers goal.

His role in the move was pivotal as the ball was played to Lee Wallace as he controlled the ball on the byline in the Hibs penalty box, before Wallace went to ground after an arm-pull by defender Michael Hart, a decision which would inevitably see both managers differing in opinions. Referee Iain Brines was adamant though and pointed to the spot. Jelavic slotting home the penalty to give the travelling support something to cheer about as their side went 1-0 up with their first chance on target.

Hibs reacted in a way not seen under Colin Calderwood by immediately putting the Rangers defence under pressure, Paul Hanlon headed marginally over when he leapt unchallenged from 12 yards out to meet a dangerous free-kick from Ivan Sproule.

Hart was at fault again as Jelavic headed home his second of the game in the 69th minute. Rangers recovered from the Hibs resurgence and killed off all hope of a Hibernian comeback. Wylde sent in a corner as Jelavic effortlessly peeled off his marker Hart. It was a simple finish as he stooped low to head the ball past Stack.

Hibs were not going down without a fight despite being two goals down, as Rangers continued to slug it out with the home team.

McGregor had to be alert as a Paul Hanlon cross was deflected and looped high over his head and looked to have given Hibs a deserved goal, but a superb save from the Rangers goalkeeper clawed the ball out from underneath the crossbar to protect his clean sheet, Osbourne sliced the follow-up wide from close-range.

And so Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon starts his career in Scottish football with a loss. He can take heart from the fact that Hibs showed a remarkable improvement from the performances under Calderwood as they were unlucky not to have taken something from the game.

Rangers can celebrate after a hard-fought win as they moved seven points clear of title rivals Celtic before their game against Hearts this afternoon.

Hibs XI: Stack, Hart, O’Hanlon, Hanlon, Stevenson, Wotherspoon, Osbourne, Stephens, Sproule, O’Connor, Griffiths.
Subs: Brown, Galbraith, Scott, Palsson, Sodje, Towell, Caldwell.

Rangers XI: McGregor, Whittaker, Goian, Bocanegra, Wallace, McCulloch, Bartley, Edu, Davis, Wylde, Jelavic.
Subs: Alexander, Broadfoot, Healy, Ortiz, McKay, Perry, Bendiksen.

Ref: Iain Brines

Att: 11,380


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