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Rangers return to Premiership summit after overcoming Hibernian at Ibrox
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Ronnie Esplin
Press Association
Rangers’ Cyriel Dessers scores against Hibernian (Jane Barlow/PA)
Rangers’ Cyriel Dessers scores against Hibernian (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rangers climbed back to the top of the cinch Premiership with a 3-1 win over Hibernian at Ibrox which had its fair of thrills and spills.

Scott Wright thought he had put Rangers ahead in the 21st minute when he slotted home after visiting keeper David Marshall had saved a James Tavernier penalty, but the Light Blues winger was penalised for encroachment and the effort was disallowed.

The home side did not have to wait much longer to get their noses in front though, with Gers skipper Tavernier making amends for his miss by firing in his 22nd goal of the season.

Myziane Maolida poked in a shock equaliser on the stroke of half-time, but Gers responded immediately with Cyriel Dessers putting the home side back in front with a header before the interval.

Second-half substitute Rabbi Matondo then drove in a wonderful third goal in the 85th minute to take Rangers two points ahead of Celtic having both played 30 fixtures.

The Hoops travel to bottom side Livingston on Sunday firm favourites to get the win which will set up nicely for next week’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

Every passing week brings more tension to the title race and Philippe Clement’s side knew what was at stake.

The Govan side, with left-back Borna Barisic and midfielder Todd Cantwell reinstated, took an immediate grip of the game against the unchanged Easter Road outfit.

Wright fired a shot just wide from the edge of the box then saw his close-range effort from a Dessers cut-back blocked by Hibs defender Jordan Obita before Marshall parried a long-range effort from Mohamed Diomande.

However, referee David Dickinson was then asked by VAR Andrew Dallas to check his pitchside monitor for a possible foul by Hibs’ Nectarios Triantis, with his arm on Gers defender John Souttar at a previous corner and he pointed to the spot.

Marshall blocked Tavernier’s penalty – as he had at Easter Road in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup earlier this month – but Wright followed up to hammer in the rebound, only for VAR to confirm he had encroached and a free-kick was given to the visitors.

Five minutes later, Tavernier made up for his mistake when he volleyed in from 16 yards after John Lundstram’s cross had only been partially cleared, with Hibs defender Will Fish unable to keep the ball out.

Seven minutes were added on at the end of the first half and Hibs took advantage to level. Elie Youan set up fellow attacker Maolida inside the box and he beat Connor Goldson, got in front of Tavernier and prodded the ball past Jack Butland.

Tension immediately engulfed Ibrox but that was alleviated in the sixth minute of added time when Dessers, who had moments earlier saw an effort saved by Marshall, headed a Cantwell cross in off the bar.

Hibs had to withstand more pressure at the start of the second half with Marshall making saves from Cantwell and Dessers but at 2-1 there was still underlying anxiety among Gers fans, erupting when Dessers failed to hit the target from eight yards from a Tavernier cut-back.

The game flattened out for a spell as both sides used their respective benches to change things up.

In the 77th minute Gers substitute Tom Lawrence opted to cut the ball back instead of shooting when through on the angle against Marshall and a glorious chance was gone.

However, another Rangers replacement, Matondo, took matters into his own hands when taking possession 20 yards from goal, sending the ball fizzing past the helpless Marshall and any nerves were banished.


Scottish PremiershipHibernianRangers
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