Three things we learned from Rangers 1-0 Hibs
Analysis from Ibrox as Hibs lose their first league game under Paul Heckingbottom, going down 1-0 to a Jermain Defoe goal.
Hibs couldn't handle Defoe in the first half
Though it was frustrating to lose a goal with half-time in sight, Defoe's opener had been coming. He had two decent opportunities in the opening stages as his movement caused real problems for Paul Hanlon and Darren McGregor. The latter actually did well to put in a last second block or challenge on a couple of occasions, but the veteran striker was a difficult customer to keep quiet prior to the break. The defence as a whole was at sixes and sevens for the opener with both David Gray and McGregor caught too high up the park. However, the unit did improve in the second period with Rangers only managing to force chances in the closing stages as their opponents committed more men forward with the hope of finding an equaliser.
The midfield and attack struggled for an hour
After a bright opening 15 minutes in which Hibs showed plenty of attacking intent, the visitors completely fell out of the game and didn't look like much of a threat until midway through the second half. Ryan Gauld started brightly as the No.10 but struggled to hold on to possession as his match wore on and couldn't make an impact around the opposing box. Daryl Horgan did likewise on the right, while Stephane Omeonga didn't look entirely comfortable on the left side of midfield. Stevie Mallan was solid enough in the centre but Mark Milligan struggled with the pace of the game beside him. Surprisingly, given his overall performances in green, it was Marc McNulty in attack who struggled the most as he couldn't manage to hold play up consistently against the Rangers centre-backs. When Paul Heckingbottom did change things up in a bid to force themselves back into the match, they were fortunate to only be 1-0 down.
The subs almost made a tremendous impact
Heckingbottom has often shown himself to be adept at altering on the fly and he improved his side again at Ibrox with the three substitutes. Thomas Agyepong was the most impressive of the trio as he was involved in three of the four highlights Hibs had in the second half. First he fired wide, then he launched a counter with an excellent ball forward for Florian Kamberi, and finally there was his cross for Fraser Murray to put past the post. The latter two then combined for Hibs' best chance of the match. Allan McGregor made a great save from the Swiss striker, but Kamberi will feel he should have bulged the net and kept the unbeaten league run under Paul Heckingbottom in tact.