A spirited Hibs performance wasn’t enough as Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent goals sealed a 2-1 Rangers win.
Aribo handed Rangers a first-half lead as Hibs pushed for a leveler but Kent’s stunning 25-yard strike after the interval secured a home win, Kevin Nisbet pulling one back for the away team late on. The Hibees now have a four-point gap on Aberdeen in fourth, remaining third after defeat in Govan.
Hibs may have gone down in this match but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Nisbet had two good attempts go inches past the post while Paul Hanlon should have done better with a free-header inside the box.
Martin Boyle was causing Rangers all sort of problems on the right-hand side, leaving Borna Barisic trailing on multiple occasions. He tumbled in the box under a Connor Goldson tackle but referee Bobby Madden booked the Hibs winger for diving.
Missed opportunities would haunt Jack Ross’ team as Rangers showed their class. They moved ahead before half-time, goalkeeper Ofir Marciano diving superbly to deny Rangers a goal before the play was recycled to allow Aribo to open proceedings.
Then Kent chipped in with a moment of magic on the hour-mark. Cutting in from the right, he weaved his way to around 25 yards from goal before blasting a low drive past Marciano. With that, the game was done as Rangers move to an uncatchable position.
The Gers haven’t lost at home domestically since March 2020 in a defeat to Hamilton Accies and are looking to remain unbeaten in the league this season. At 1-0 it looked possible for Hibs to take something, but eventually their efforts were in vain.
Boyle had an effort late in the game as Hibs searched for a consolation before Nisbet made Allan McGregor work from a free-kick. The Scotland international did become the third player to score away to Rangers this season though, Paul McGinn’s excellent cross headed in by Nisbet with 12 minutes to play.
In the end Rangers did more than enough to seal three points and here are three things we learned.
Ross asked for a similar performance to the one Hibs put in when they lost 1-0 to Rangers on Boxing Day. He wouldn’t have wanted an exact repeat though and that’s what he got, Hibs creating chances and defending well, but undone by Rangers’ quality in vital moments.
The Australian international was dangerous when going forward at Ibrox, testing the Rangers defence and goalkeeper many times. But as he was asked to track back, Barisic added difficulty to his task, perhaps showing Boyle is at his best when left to roam in the final third.
With Aberdeen’s win over St Johnstone on Saturday, Hibs’ grip on third has weakened, albeit not drastically. They still have it all in their own hands but need to win at least a couple of their four remaining matches to get things over the line as European football is hunted.
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