Hibs were 'too naive' against Rangers and too many players below par, admits Lee Johnson
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Connor Goldson’s own goal put the hosts in front after an emotional start to the match as the Hibs fans sang ‘Sunshine on Leith’ in memory of Ron Gordon but James Tavernier levelled from the penalty spot before Antonio Čolak put the Light Blues in front. Fashion Sakala added the third and Čolak doubled his personal tally as the visitors strolled the second half with Hibs unable to lay a glove on their opponents in the second period.
Speaking afterwards, a somewhat deflated Johnson said: “It was a brilliant start, you could feel the emotion in the stadium and I think the boys fed off that, and then very quickly we showed too much naivety and a lack of technical quality. It was a bit hot potato in terms of the ball. We've been so confident and so settled but you're moving up a level when you come up against a team like Rangers.
"Our players need to step up in these games. We've conceded chances and goals of our own doing. You have to give credit to Rangers – they were snappy, they were on us, and I thought Ryan Kent was outstanding in terms of running the game from that central area.”
Lamenting the loss of the second and third goals – ‘two naive and big mistakes’ – the Easter Road boss added: “In these games you have to be smarter and you have to know when to control the tempo and when to speed it up.
"We did carry a threat in the first half, I thought. Élie Youan has been really confident lately and I don't know whether that slipped into a bit of complacency or it was the fact that the game was one level higher, but he didn't quite have the same influence on the game as he has done. At the same time he did get in behind a couple of times and we really should have equalised to make it 2-2 and maybe we would have got a second wind from that.”
Johnson remains hopeful that the defeat won’t harm his team’s burgeoning confidence but wants to see more from his players – asserting that too many of his charges underperformed in a big game.
“We were seven unbeaten before this game and the players have done ever so well to turn around a tough run,” he continued. “They've shown a lot of spirit and this is another game where we’ve got to learn our lessons. This is quite a young squad but there were just too many under-par Hibs players today and that is down to Rangers’ quality and physicality and experience and speed and thought process.
“I was disappointed because every time we go into these games I honestly believe that we’ve got a chance. I really felt that and in the spells that we had we looked more than competent but too many were too average today. But I haven't got any complaints in terms of the final result. Rangers were the better side, they were individually better, and they were the better team."