Rangers 3, Hibs 2: Gers come from behind to deny Hibs victory in Premiership restart

Hibs fell to defeat in their first cinch Premiership match after the World Cup break in a rollercoaster encounter with Rangers at Ibrox.
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Ryan Porteous headed an early opener for Hibs with Fashion Sakala replying. Kevin Nisbet restored Hibs’ lead less than a minute later but second-half strikes from Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos ensured the points would stay in Glasgow.

Hibs had had a hastily-arranged set-piece meeting on Tuesday afternoon but it’s doubtful whether they could have envisaged the simplicity with which they scored the opening goal. Joe Newell flighted in a corner from the right side and Porteous – who else? – leapt highest and bulleted a header beyond Allan McGregor with eight minutes on the clock.

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The centre-back, deployed in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role, nearly scored an unlikely second five minutes later when he latched onto a Chris Cadden throw-in and sent a powerful effort just over, just seconds after Élie Youan had produced a fingertip save from McGregor with a similar effort.

On the quarter-hour mark, Hibs again showed some of the defensive frailties that have let them down already this season. Fashion Sakala had plenty of time and space on the left side of the box to ping an effort beyond David Marshall and into the far corner.

The smoke from the Union Bears’ flares celebrating the equaliser had barely dissipated before Hibs had the ball in the back of the net a second time. Marijan Čabraja’s ball from left-back somehow sneaked through a clutch of Rangers players and reached Nisbet, who made a beeline for the box and finished emphatically to restore Hibs’ lead. Not a bad way to mark his return to competitive action, this his first league goal since Boxing Day last year.

Three minutes before the break Hibs should really have extended their lead. Some nice play between Campbell and Nisbet ended with the striker nudging it through for Youan who beat the Gers’ offside trap but his shot was saved by the legs of McGregor. There was still time for Jack to blaze over before the whistle blew to bring an end to an extraordinary 49 minutes of football. What World Cup?

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If Hibs had been impressive in the first period, they regressed to their old ways in the second. Marshall’s point-blank save to deny Sakala from Adam Devine’s cross ten minutes in should have been a warning but the visitors looked increasingly rocky at the back. There were still glimpses of hope – Nisbet wasn’t far away from connecting with a low Youan cross – but Michael Beale’s half-time team-talk had clearly had the desired effect.

Ryan Porteous scores Hibs' opener at IbroxRyan Porteous scores Hibs' opener at Ibrox
Ryan Porteous scores Hibs' opener at Ibrox

Just before the hour the hosts did level. James Tavernier’s corner was flicked on by the impressive Malik Tillman and Jack stabbed home from close range. It had been coming but most worrying for Lee Johnson will be how his side appeared to crumble in the wake of sustained pressure.

Fewer than five minutes later Rangers turned the game around and Tillman was the architect once more. Tavernier played in the on-loan Bayern Munich man and he dodged Paul Hanlon’s attempted challenge before slipping to Morelos who slammed home from close in.

From then on there only really looked like being one winner.

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