Hibs debrief: Brilliance of Boyler; why Morelos should have been booked; how the break let Ross re-set
A look back at how Hibs stunned Rangers 3-1 in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final at Hampden, Martin Boyle’s sensational first-half hat-trick booking a place in the final against Celtic on December 19.
Player of the match
After probably the best 45 minutes a Hibs striker has ever enjoyed against Rangers, Martin Boyle was a stick-on. He had never scored against the Ibrox men before and had flown halfway round the world and back to play for Australia during the week. But it mattered not. Bright, dangerous and clinical, he tormented the Rangers defence with his treble in the first half and then put in a shift for his team in the second. But there were no letdowns in green and white. Outstanding at the back, captain Paul Hanlon would have been man of the match on any other day but it had to be Boyler.
When Kevin Clancy laid down a marker by handing out yellow cards to Paul Hanlon Joe Newell inside the first three minutes for tackles on Joe Aribo, Hibs fans must have feared the worst. The man in the middle and his assistant both amazingly missed the flailing arm that Alfredo Morelos thrust into the face Ryan Porteous right in front of Jack Ross after half an hour, but Clancy was in the right place to correctly award Hibs a penalty when Boyle was scythed down in the area. Clancy kept the game flowing and overall did OK.
Benefit of hindsight
Hibs went into this one undercooked and out of form. No games since October and no wins since September. Four straight defeats was a run not seen since the Terry Butcher days, raising questions marks about the manager among some Hibs fans. But Covid ripping through the camp and the international break that followed provided Jack Ross and his players with an opportunity to re-set. They hadn’t played a competitive game for three and a half weeks going into this one, but there was nothing rusty about the Hibs performance. The break was just what they needed.
Moment you may have missed
Anyone who thought the Porteous-Aribo controversy at Ibrox a month ago had been consigned to history should think again. It took Paul Hanlon just 10 seconds to remind us that Hibs had not forgotten with an aggressive, overzealous challenge on the Rangers winger just outside the box. Joe Newell followed his skipper into the book just two minutes later with another late tackle on Aribo. A show of solidarity towards Porteous? Maybe. An attempt to intimidate Aribo? Probably. A signal of intent, showing that they meant business? Definitely.