Hibernian 1-3 Rangers: Visitors record an emphatic victory to kick-start their end-of-season run-in as Michael Beale’s side score three times on third trip to Easter Road against underwhelming opposition
- Rangers recorded a dominant victory over Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday
- The visitor’s have now won their last three Scottish Premiership matches
- Michael Beale’s side scored three times before conceding a late consolation goal
Back to where it all started. And still up to his old tricks.
In July 2015, James Tavernier marked his first-ever Rangers appearance with a free-kick goal in a Petrofac Challenge Cup tie at Easter Road. The Ibrox club were in the Championship then, still striving to complete The Journey back up the divisions.
Eight years on – and 399 games later – Tavernier has been a Premiership champion, a Scottish Cup winner and played in a European final. Much has changed. But his set-piece prowess remains unaltered.
Appearance no.400 for Rangers was marked in trademark fashion with a 101st goal for the club. An audacious first-half free-kick caught out David Marshall at his near post, dealing a blow to Hibs’ continental ambitions in the process.
No-one other than Tavernier would have even considered a strike from such an acute angle. While a summer of widespread change looms at Ibrox, Michael Beale will surely still place high value on a 31-year-old captain capable of delivering such extraordinary attacking numbers.
James Tavernier (middle) celebrated his side’s second goal as Rangers took control of proceedings
Tavernier (left) previously scored his first goal for Rangers at the home of Hibernian and did so again today
Rangers’ second goal also carried significance. Ianis Hagi hadn’t scored since January 18, 2022, a few days before suffering the ACL injury which sidelined him for a year. He celebrated this little landmark with passion.
Todd Cantwell knocked in a late third after an error by Marshall, who’s had better afternoons, to ensure Beale’s men matched the scoreline against Celtic from the previous weekend.
While it’s all too late to matter for Rangers this season, the match carried greater significance for Hibs. Lee Johnson’s side had chances – with Josh Campbell missing a snip and Kevin Nisbet hitting the post – but didn’t take any until Paul Hanlon headed in a stoppage time corner.
Sitting fifth, they can technically still make third place but need to beat both Celtic and Hearts, while hoping other results go their way. Closing the four-point gap to their city rivals in fourth will require taking something from the champions on Wednesday night.
Tavernier’s impudence provided the one moment of clarity during a frantic first half. The boundless energy on display from both sides wasn’t always matched by composure in the final third.
In truth, deliveries from the Rangers captain were a threat to Hibs from the off. A corner after two minutes caused panic in the home defence, with John Souttar eventually looping a header that dropped against the bar with Marshall stretching. Warning had been served.
Rangers came closer still a further two minutes in, when another Tavernier corner led to a header from Leon King. It looked goal-bound until being smuggled off the line as Ryan Jack lurked.
King was picked at centre-back due to a ten-week injury for Connor Goldson which will sideline him during pre-season. It was the youngster’s first start for Rangers since a 1-1 draw at St Mirren last November, in what was also Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s final match in charge before being sacked during the World Cup break.
Ianis Hagi (left) scored his first goal for Rangers since January 2022 as Hibs slumped to defeat
Hagi celebrated emphatically after spending the majority of the season on the side-lines through injury
Beale’s only other alteration was to bring in Hagi for Rabbi Matondo as part of an attacking trident.
Fashion Sakala was operating – for the most part – as the central striker. His first sight of goal came when Tavernier picked him out with a neat little pass into the area. The Zambian shifted feet before drawing a pretty comfortable save from Marshall at his near post.
Hibs were unchanged after an impressive, if ultimately unrewarded, display in a 0-0 draw against Aberdeen eight days previously. Elie Youan had been almost unplayable at Pittodrie. Here, he found it trickier to make inroads.
The French winger did bamboozle Tavernier with some twisting trickery before crossing for Nisbet to send a downward header wide. That was as close as Johnson’s side came before falling behind on 32 minutes.
Rangers boss Michael Beale helped steer his side to victory on Sunday
Souttar’s sweeping, long-range pass to Cantwell was the catalyst. It dropped perfectly for the ex-Norwich midfielder to controlled before being blocked by CJ Egan-Riley. Referee Alan Muir awarded a free-kick – much to the dismay of the full-back. Maybe he knew what was coming. No-one else did.
Located to the left of the penalty area at a fairly acute angle, it looked like an opportunity to try and find a team-mate’s head. Tavernier, though, had other ideas.
Investing skill and imagination alongside a dollop of old-fashioned cheek, the Ibrox skipper spotted the gap left by Marshall and whipped the ball inside his near post with pace and dip. It was a brilliant effort.
Even so, the goalkeeper will regret his part in the concession. By the time Marshall scrambled across his line to get a hand towards the ball, it was already in.
Hibs really should have levelled four minutes before the break when Nisbet used the outside of his boot to pick out Campbell. While the midfielder had to stretch to make contact, that wasn’t an excuse for failing to hit the target from inside the six-yard box.
Nisbet nodded just off target following the restart as Ross McCrorie was placed under pressure. Rangers’ concern was raised when Nico Raskin had to be substituted, but a clinching second goal arrived on 55 minutes. It was a special moment for Hagi.
Hibernian players were unable to deal with the effectiveness of Rangers at Easter Road
Sakala troubled Will Fish enough for Tavernier’s long pass to be knocked down into his path. When a right-foot strike was blocked by Paul Hanlon, the Romanian followed up with his left and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Nisbet headed against the post and John Lundstram saw an effort tipped over by Marshall before Rangers made it 3-0 on 86 minutes.
Tavernier’s shot was blocked by Fish but rebounded back to travel towards goal. Already wrong-footed, Marshall couldn’t adjust as the ball hit against him. Cantwell was on hand to knock in.
Hanlon then headed in a Joe Newell corner to offer a sliver of consolation for Hibs but – just like July 2015 – this was not their day.
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