In the end it was Rangers who left the capital scratching their heads, while the only thing troubling the home club was how they can quash the poor fans’ behaviour after a fan attacked the Rangers captain.
Insipid as they were toppled out of the Scottish Cup by Celtic last weekend, at Easter Road, against a team they had taken all the way in the battle for second place in the Premiership last term, the home side spent most of the evening firefighting.
But, having blown one of the Leith side’s best opportunities in the first half, Florian Kamberi, a player who was badly burned by comments of his previous manager, side-footed a 76th minute effort past Allan McGregor to scorch Steven Gerrard’s hopes of beating rivals Celtic to the title.
Draws have been the Ibrox side’s Achilles heel this season and account for the gap between them and the top of the table. Given their dominance throughout the first hour of this encounter the fact they allowed another stalemate to blot their record will frustrate the Rangers manager.
The biggest threat they faced in the first half had been posed by a thug hurdling the pitchside advertising boards as the interval approached and becoming embroiled in a tussle with Rangers captain James Tavernier. It was another shameful moment for the club and, allied to the broken seats that were hurled from the away end, proved that more has to be done to quash the antics of the idiotic minority.
At that stage it was the closest Hibs had come to laying a glove on their guests,
In the two previous meetings this term the sides had been unable to find a winner. But as Hibs increasingly relied on last ditch tackles, fortuitous lunges, and goalline clearances to keep the swarming Ibrox side at bay, there seemed little likelihood that points would be shared in this one.
The Glasgow side had to wait until the 43rd minute to get the breakthrough, though. But the truth is they could have been a couple of goals to the good by that stage.
In the build up to the match Hibs full-back Lewis Stevenson had revealed that he and his defensive colleagues were more wary of Alfredo Morelos than any other striker in the Scottish top flight and with 28 goals in 42 appearances ithe trepidation was understandable.
Perhaps looking to quash those suggestions, Darren McGregor got caught up with the Colombian in the seventh minute and earned a yellow card as he raised his hands and when he was carded yet again as the game seeped into stoppage time he was sent packing.
But by then he and his colleagues had done enough to salvage something from the game.
The Premiership top scorer had signed a contract extension prior to the game and the stage was set for Morelos to grab the headlines but instead it was Hibs birthday boy, Kamberi, who ended the night with more to celebrate.
In the opening period Rangers moved the ball about well and Hibs were chasing shadows. But Paul Heckingbottom’s men somehow managed to stay resolute enough to repel the visitors time and time again.
Rangers’ own profligacy also played its part. In the 11th minute Ryan Kent set up Scott Arfield with a well-weighted cut back but the midfielder ballooned over.
At the other end, a breakaway saw Marc McNulty feed the ball to Kamberi but his shot was weak and never likely to beat a keeper of McGregor’s calibre. As Ofir Marciano
But the traffic was largely one way and Morelos nipped in ahead of Paul Hanlon and Marciano had to come out and make himself big to get his body between the Rangers frontman and the opener,
At that stage Hibs were just hoofing the ball, as much to give themselves a moment of breathing space as it was to find any meaningful route upfield but it came back at them time and again and Marciano had to intervene to prevent Kent’s left foot shot curling into the top corner.
For a side looked to cement their place in the top six, Hibs were offering very little at that stage as Arfield, Ryan Jack and Glen Kamara pulled the strings in the middle of the park and allowed Andy Halliday and Daniel Candeias to push forward.
It was the latter who eventually broke the deadlock. Cutting in, he capitalised on Stevenson’s slip but when his initial shot was blocked he pounced on the rebound to eventually find the net.
As coins and other missiles rained onto the pitch, Hibs were looking for a way to respond. Encouraged by the fact that Rangers were only one goal ahead, they found it in the final half an hour and pressed for the equaliser.
It came in the 76th minute when Steven Mallan picked out McNulty and he squared it to Kamberi to bury at the back post.