It's 6-6 so far '“ who will triumph at Hampden?
This weekend's Scottish Cup final effectively marks the climax of an epic two-season-long series between Hibs and Rangers.
Since being reunited in the Championship just under two years ago, these Scottish football heavyweights have met 12 times in all competitions, with six victories apiece. The rivalry has been fierce and captivating as they have vied with each other for promotion. Last season, Hibs pipped Rangers to second place in the Championship, then lost to the Ibrox side in the play-offs.
This term, with Mark Warburton at the helm, the Glasgow side made a rampant start to the campaign and then fended off a strong fightback from Hibs to pull away in the last three months of the campaign and claim the title.
Here is how those 12 Hibs v Rangers clashes unfolded . .
Rangers 2, Hibs 1 (August 5, 2014, Petrofac Training Cup): Hibs, still in the early stages of rebuilding after relegation, were widely expected to be lambs to the slaughter against the pre-season Championship favourites. However, they showed plenty promise in Alan Stubbs’ first game in charge and looked like they might go on to win after Danny Handling cancelled out Lewis Macleod’s opener. Handling was dubiously sent off with ten minutes left, though, and Rangers took advantage to win courtesy of a Nicky Law goal in extra-time.
Rangers 1, Hibs 3 (September 27, 2014, Championship): The game where Stubbs’ hitherto stuttering reign effectively ignited. Hibs raced into a shock 3-0 half-time lead courtesy of a Jason Cummings double and a David Gray goal. Law hit back after the break but Hibs held firm on a night when Cummings’ “touch of an angel” provided the launchpad for both he and his team to reach for new heights.
Hibs 4, Rangers 0 (December 27, 2014, Championship): The high point of Stubbs’ first season in charge as Hibs, led by talisman Scott Allan, obliterated their rivals in Kenny McDowall’s first game after replacing Ally McCoist. Gray, Cummings, Scott Robertson and Liam Craig scored as Hibs closed to within four points of second-place Rangers.
Rangers 0, Hibs 2 (February 13, 2015, Championship): Remarkably, Hibs found themselves heading to Ibrox as favourites and they lived up to their billing with a hard-fought away win. Goals in each half from Robertson and Lewis Stevenson allowed Stubbs’ men to leapfrog their beleaguered hosts into second place.
Hibs 0, Rangers 2 (February 22, 2015, Championship): Hibs were unbeaten in 15 games and Rangers hadn’t won in five, but Stuart McCall’s team pulled off a surprise win with goals from Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller. Hibs’ defeat meant city rivals Hearts were officially confirmed as Championship winners.
Rangers 2, Hibs 0 (May 20, 2015, play-off semi-final, first leg): Hibs were well-fancied to progress after a strong finish to the season but, although they dominated for long periods at Ibrox, they spurned some good opportunities and were punished by goals from Nicky Clark and Miller.
Hibs 1, Rangers 0 (May 23, 2015, play-off semi-final, second leg): Hibs needed to win by two to maintain their promotion hopes but they were unable to find a way past a well-organised and defensive-minded Rangers side until Cummings curled in a fine strike in stoppage-time. It was too little, too late, but Rangers lost to Motherwell in the final, meaning the sides would reconvene in the second tier this term.
Hibs 2, Rangers 6 (July 25, 2015, Petrofac Cup): With the Scott Allan transfer saga in full swing, Hibs fielded a patchwork team and ended up crushed by Mark Warburton’s swashbuckling, new-look side. The hosts had bossed most of the first half and led through Sam Stanton, but Rangers eventually turned on the style.
Rangers 1, Hibs 0 (August 23, 2015, Championship): Hibs played well for long periods, but were once again made to rue missed chances as James Tavernier’s spectacular second-half free-kick looped over Mark Oxley. It sent the Ibrox side six points clear of Hibs after just three games.
Hibs 2, Rangers 1 (November 1, 2015, Championship): On-form Hibs made it 11 games in a row unbeaten as they ended Rangers’ 100 per cent record in the league to close within five points of the leaders. Paul Hanlon headed the winner after Darren McGregor’s own goal had cancelled out a brilliant Cummings opener.
Rangers 4, Hibs 2 (December 28, 2015, Championship): Hibs had moved level on points with Rangers and looked set to go clear at the top for the first time when Cummings gave them a 23rd-minute lead. However, they soon lost their way and some catastrophic defending allowed the hosts, who had Andy Halliday sent off, to reassert themselves at the summit.
Hibs 3, Rangers 2 (April 20, 2015): Rangers had already tied up the league and having just beaten Celtic in the Scottish Cup, weren’t at the races. However, it was still a morale-boosting win for Hibs, who struck early through Cummings and a Wes Foderingham own goal. Niklas Gunnarsson got what proved to be the winner.