Rangers return to summit with victory over Hibs

by 24britishtvMarch 30, 2024, 6 p.m. 16
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Last updated on .From the section Scottish Premiership

Rangers returned to the summit of the Scottish Premiership as they picked off Hibernian at Ibrox.

VAR chaos reigned earlier when Rangers were awarded a contentious penalty missed by Tavernier before Scott Wright smacked home the rebound, only to be penalised for encroachment.

The second period slowed down as Rangers kept things ticking over, before substitute Rabbi Matondo settled the game with a gorgeous curling effort.

With an Old Firm derby looming next weekend, Phillippe Clement's side are two points ahead of Celtic, who will have played a game more when they travel to Livingston on Sunday.
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A dull affair descended into chaos when VAR ruled that Nectarios Triantis' flailing arm in the face of John Souttar merited a spot-kick.

Hibs were incandescent, and momentarily thought they had a reprieve when David Marshall saved his fourth penalty of the season, only to watch Wright rifle the rebound into the far corner.

The winger believed he had atoned for missing a sitter moments earlier, but his frustration was compounded as the tightest of calls, and another lengthy review, left the scoreline level.

As he so often does, captain Tavernier took control of the situation to thump home an unstoppable finish as Rangers found the breakthrough.

The first-half drama was not to end there. Maolida's equaliser came out of nowhere in Hibs' first real showing of menace, with the January signing grabbing his seventh goal since arriving in the capital.

Determined to restore their lead before the break, Todd Cantwell's wonderful delivery did all the work for Dessers to ease an expectant Ibrox crowd with a crashing header.

An early second-half flurry from the hosts spelled danger for a Hibs side that competed well for large spells. Cantwell asked more questions, while Dessers could have added another if not for Marshall's sprawling save.

It turned into an exhibition in control and restraint as Rangers once again moved into pole position. Matondo's beauty was simply the cherry on the cake.

The same cool composure will be vital if they're to prevail in next weekend's crucial meeting of the title contenders.

Rangers keep confidence with Old Firm to come - analysis

Had Rangers slipped up here, the psychological blow with the Old Firm on the horizon could have been terminal. There's fine margins in this absorbing title tussle, and any misstep has the potential to derail either challenger.

The Ibrox side weren't at their most convincing, but in truth, were never under too much pressure. Even after the equaliser, Clement's side continued to look assured and got their noses in front again without breaking too much sweat.

After a spell of having a crowded physios' room, the Rangers bench looked far more healthy. Cantwell thrived in his favoured number 10 role, while Abdallah Sima and Dujon Sterling got minutes under their belt off the bench.

For the second consecutive meeting with Rangers, Hibs showed more mettle than is often associated with Nick Montgomery's side.

Their improvement since the cavalry arrived in the winter window has been marked. Maolida may be the pick of the bunch, with his strength and savvy to stay on his feet and poke the ball home giving the travelling support hope of a rare Ibrox scalp.

Dundee's victory at St Johnstone means Hibs drop out of the top six for the moment. The Easter Road outfit must find their feet again quickly if they're to avoid a deflating finish in the bottom half of the table.

Rangers' attention shifts to Sunday's Old Firm derby as they host Celtic at Ibrox (12:00 BST), while Hibs host St Johnstone the day prior (15:00).

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