Hibernian 1-4 Rangers: Visitors respond to slow start
Rangers recovered from a ropey start to turn on the style at Easter Road with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Hibernian.
Ibrox defender Connor Goldson put through his own goal after eight minutes but the Light Blues steadied and fought back almost immediately with a James Tavernier penalty — his third goal in four games — and an Antonio Colak strike before the break.
Michael Beale’s side pulverised Hibs at the start of the second half as tireless Fashion Sakala drove in a third in the 52nd minute before Croatia striker Colak grabbed his second six minutes later with a poacher’s finish and it could have been more.
Lee Johnson’s fourth-placed side had returned to form, unbeaten in five matches with three successive wins, but they were swept away.
The Light Blues remain nine points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic, who beat Hearts 3-1 at Parkhead, but Beale will be as delighted as the travelling support with the performance.
Before the match the Edinburgh club paid tribute to late owner Ron Gordon who died last month with a rendition of club anthem ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and the home fans drowned out those in the away support who were less sympathetic.
In a barnstorming start to proceedings it was the home side who got off the mark when unmarked attacker Matthew Hoppe guided a deep free-kick back across goal with Goldson turning the ball into his own net from two yards out.
Moments later, when Gers attacker Ryan Kent was brought down in the box by CJ Egan-Riley, referee Don Robertson checked his pitch side monitor at the insistence of the VAR, and pointed to the spot with Tavernier firing past Hibs keeper David Marshall.
The game sped from end to end.
Kent, playing with freedom and finesse, then had two efforts from inside the box, one which went past the far post and the next into the arms of Marshall, before a terrific back-tracking tackle from wing-back Chris Cadden thwarted the speedy Light Blues winger when he only had the Easter Road keeper to beat.
Colak shot over the bar after being set up by Sakala, who had fed Kent for his earlier two attempts.
Beale’s slick-moving side moved down both flanks with increasing menace.
In the 33rd minute Marshall brilliantly tipped a close-range shot from Rangers left-back Borna Barisic over the bar but the Hibs number one could not prevent Colak nipping in to convert a Sakala cross a minute later.
The Croatia striker missed a great chance soon after and then had a shot blocked before Sakala broke on a counter but failed to get his shot away.
The Rangers fans indulged in another pyro display at the start of the second half where Sakala’s cross from wide on the left just failed to reach Colak.
Rangers’ third goal was a gift. A poor clearance from Marshall was returned by midfielder Ryan Jack to Sakala who turned past defender Will Fish and slotted past the Hibs keeper from 16 yards.
The Govan men were relentless and when they pushed Hibs back into their own box, Sakala’s strike was deflected to Colak who swept the ball low past Marshall and into the corner of the net.
The Hibees were being held in an iron grip.
Just after the hour mark, Sakala had the ball in the net from a Tavernier cross but the offside flag was up with VAR confirming the decision.
Beale made all five substitutes in the 76th minute, with Scott Arfield, Ianis Hagi, Alfredo Morelos, Scott Wright and John Lundstram coming on, and more chances were created and missed but the points were already won.