Gers recover to hit Hibs for four
Rangers showed their SPL title credentials by staging a remarkable
comeback to win 4-1 against Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday.
The result restored the Gers’ four-point advantage over
Celtic at the top of the table.
Anthony Stokes left the Scottish champions reeling when he
claimed the SPL’s fastest-ever goal after just 12.4 seconds –
beating the record previously set by Saulius Mikoliunas for Hearts
back in 2006 – but it was not enough for Hibs to maintain their
impressive assault on the Old Firm’s dominance this season.
Rangers hit back through a double from Kenny Miller and goals
from Kris Boyd and Nacho Novo to end the Edinburgh club’s unbeaten
run of 13 league games and bring their own tally of goals to 19 for
the month of December.
Hibs were handed a boost ahead of the match when Sol Bamba
was given the green light to play after initially being denied
permission to delay joining up with the Ivory Coast squad ahead of
the African Nations Cup.
Rangers were without DaMarcus Beasley after he apparently
suffered a thigh strain in training, but Maurice Edu was named on
the bench for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury
in the final SPL game of last season.
Some fans had yet to take their seats in the stand when Hibs
surged into the lead with just 12 seconds on the clock. Merouane
Zemmama threaded a pass through to Stokes who drilled an angled
drive past Allan McGregor and into the back of the net.
Rangers attempted to force their way back into the game and
Kyle Lafferty delivered a decent cross for Miller only for the
striker to nod narrowly wide of target.
Miller made amends for that miss with 21 minutes gone when he
raced onto a Boyd pass before rifling past Yves Ma-Kalambay in the
Hibs goal from 20 yards to level the scoreline. Miller then went to
ground in the area claiming he had been bundled over by Chris Hogg
but referee Iain Brines was unimpressed by the claims and no
penalty was forthcoming.
Hogg then appeared to handle in the box but, again, the match
official was unmoved. But Rangers were celebrating again when they
took the lead after 37 minutes. Derek Riordan was dispossessed on
the right flank by Madjid Bougherra, who whipped a cross to the
feet of Boyd for the striker to lash high into the net from eight
Ma-Kalambay appeared to be struggling with a hamstring injury
during the first half but reappeared after the interval, with boss
John Hughes seemingly reluctant to throw rookie Thomas Flynn into
At the other end, Stokes stung the palms of McGregor with a
snap-shot five minutes after the restart and the Rangers goalkeeper
did well to snuff out the danger.
Instead, it was Ma-Kalambay who was soon picking the ball out
of the net again. The Hibs goalkeeper came off his line to block
but was caught cold by Nacho Novo’s cross-cum-shot from the left
with 53 minutes gone.
There appeared to be no way back for Hibs when Rangers
claimed their fourth of the day after 67 minutes. Boyd was the
provider for Miller, who shrugged off Bamba to send a low shot
trickling over the line, with Ma-Kalambay helpless.
The vocal travelling support had more to cheer when Edu was
introduced for the final 15 minutes, making his first appearance of
Easter Road rapidly began to empty, with Hibs sensing there
was no hope of staging their own comeback.
Substitute Abdessalam Benjelloun could have reduced the
deficit with a well-struck shot from distance but McGregor was up
to the task and blocked well as Rangers continued their winning run