Hibs 2, Rangers 1: Stubbs’ men boost title bid

Paul Hanlon headed home Hibs' winning goal in the second half
Paul Hanlon headed home Hibs' winning goal in the second half
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Hibs slashed Rangers’ lead at the top of the Championship table to five points as they brought the Ibrox club’s run of 11 wins to an end in a pulsating 90 minutes at Easter Road.

Jason Cummings fired Alan Stubbs’ side ahead with a stunning 11th-minute goal, coincidentally his 11th of the season, before Lee Wallace’s low cross two minutes after the interval clipped the heel of Darren McGregor to level for the Glasgow outfit.

Wallace and substitute Nathan Oduwa both struck the woodwork as Hibs rode their luck but Paul Hanlon powered in to head home John McGinn’s corner in the 72nd minute to claim an impressive victory for the Capital side.

Stubbs made just one change to the side which defeated Raith Rovers, Fraser Fyvie coming in at the expense of Liam Fontaine as Hibs reverted to a back four while Rangers brought in former Hearts skipper Danny Wilson after an absence because of injury and Nicky Clark as Kenny Miller dropped out of Mark Warburton’s squad and Gedion Zelalam took a seat on the bench.

Hibs survived an early penalty scare, referee John Beaton taking a long hard look at Lewis Stevenson’s challenge on Jason Holt before deciding no offence had been committed, much to the anger of the Rangers players.

A superb angled pass by Dominique Malonga behind the Rangers defence found John McGinn running in all alone, but the midfielder couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough and a golden chance had gone.

But all that was forgotten when Cummings gathered David Gray’s throw-in before spinning away from Wilson and then sending a fantastic left-foot shot curling beyond the despairing right hand of Rangers goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.

In a rip-roaring encounter, play raged from end to end, Clark’s cross running into the path of James Tavernier, who saw his shot take the merest deflection to send it wide before that man Cummings engineered space for himself again, but this time his effort went straight into the arms of Foderingham.

Hibs had been well worth their lead but they surrendered it within two minutes of the restart, Wallace’s low cross catching the heel of Hibs defender McGregor to leave goalkeeper Mark Oxley flat-footed as the ball rolled into the bottom right corner of his net.

The Capital club attempted to hit back right away and Dominic Ball came within inches of scoring an own goal, deflecting Liam Henderson’s low cross over his own bar before substitute Marvin Bartley’s precise shot crept inches wide with Foderingham in trouble as he was when McGinn’s rocket whistled past his right-hand post.

But it was Rangers who almost took the lead in the 56th minute, Oxley bringing off a terrific save to deny Martyn Waghorn only for the ball to fall for Wallace, who looked certain to claim his second of the game. His rising shot, however, crashed back off the underside of the bar.

Rangers, though, sensed another goal and Gray had to come up with a perfectly-timed challenge to halt Andy Halliday, Wallace’s runs inside the full back starting to cause Hibs more than a few problems.

Cummings had a glorious opportunity to put Hibs ahead again when McGinn’s superb 60-yard ball found him running in behind Rob Kiernan. He was left with only Foderingham to beat but the goalkeeper stayed tall to pull off a good save.

Oduwa went even closer at the other end, his shot beating Oxley but not the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.

Foderingham tipped over McGinn’s free-kick to concede a corner which led to Hibs second goal, McGinn whipping it over for Hanlon to power in to head home his first goal of the season.

Hibs: Oxley, Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, Fyvie, McGeouch (Bartley 20), McGinn, Henderson (Keatings 67), Malonga (Feruz 86), Cummings. Substitutes not used: Reguero, Fontaine, Carmichael, Forster.

Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson (Zelalem 58), Wallace, Holt (Shiels 81), Halliday, Ball, Clark (Oduwa 58), Waghorn, McKay. Substitutes not used: Kelly, Aird, Thompson, Walsh.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 14,412