Captain David Gray powered home an injury-time header as Hibs won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years in a drama-packed final at Hampden.
The banner opposite the tunnel read “Time for Heroes” as the teams took to the field, but little could those Hibs fans holding it have dreamt of the response they’d get with the Edinburgh club ahead in less than three minutes.
It was the persistence of player of the year John McGinn who initiated the move with a typically surging run and, although he was fouled by Andrew Halliday, referee Steven McLean played what turned out to be a fantastic advantage.
Jason Cummings picked up the loose ball and set Anthony Stokes away, the on-loan Celtic striker raced into the penalty area and was composure personified as he guided the ball into the far corner of Wes Foderingham’s net.
Later on in the half, McGinn attempted an audacious chip which had Foderingham quickly backtracking and thankful to see the ball land on the roof of his net.
Rangers would have been grateful not to have been swept aside but they hauled themselves level, pretty much against the run of play, in the 27th minute as James Tavernier found space to deliver a cross which found Kenny Miller rising above McGregor to bullet home an unstoppable header.
Incredibly, Hibs could have been back ahead within 60 seconds, Stokes beating Foderingham all ends up with a tremendous strike which crashed back off the inside of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
And Rangers were also left cursing the woodwork when Miller got his head to Barrie McKay’s corner, the former Hibs striker only a couple of inches away from giving his side an unlikely lead.
Stokes had proved to be the dangerman for Hibs throughout the first half and he was at it again five minutes after the restart, firing in a dipping shot from 25 yards which had Forderingham scrambling down at his right-hand post to touch the ball past. But Rangers took the lead for the first time in the game in the 64th minute.
Halliday was allowed too much time as he sized up a left-foot shot which sped across Hibs goalkeeper Conrad Logan and in at the far post.
Hibs manager Alan Stubbs reacted by throwing on James Keatings and Liam Henderson for Cummings and Liam Fontaine, moving from a 3-5-2 formation to 4-4-2 in an effort to get that equaliser, Stokes going close but not close enough as he cut in from the left only to see his shot rise over the target.
The Republic of Ireland internationalist, however, wasn’t to be denied ten minutes from time when he outmuscled Tavernier to get his head to Henderson’s corner, bulleting the ball high into Foderingham’s net. And, as the game moved into four minutes of added on time, only the fingertips of Foderingham prevented Keatings getting on the end of Stokes cross.
Not that it mattered though, Gray powering in a header from Henderson’s corner to win the match.
Hibs: Logan, McGregor, Hanlon (Gunnarsson 83), Fontaine (Henderson 70), Gray, Fyvie, McGeouch, McGinn, Stevenson, Cummings (Keatings 65), Stokes. Substitutes not used: Oxley, Bartley, Boyle, Dagnall.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace, Zelalem (Shiels 63), Halliday, Holt, McKay, Waghorn (Clark 75), Miller. Substitutes not used: Bell, Law, Burt.