Jack Ross could not hide his pride at watching his Hibs team go “toe-to-toe” with Rangers after the Hibs held Steven Gerrard’s men to a 2-2 draw at Easter Road.
Drey Wright fired Hibs into a 22nd-minute lead, but Alfredo Morelos equalised in first-half stoppage time before Scott Arfield put the visitors ahead on 57 minutes.
Despite coming under increasing pressure, Hibs held firm and scored an equaliser 20 minutes from the end when Christian Doidge headed home a Martin Boyle cross.
It was the first match Rangers had conceded a goal this season and Ross hailed his players for standing up to the challenge and executing his game-plan.
"We’ll not celebrate drawing the game. We genuinely wanted to win the game today – and believed we could do so,” said Ross.
"The motivation for us was to go joint top of the table. That was a huge one.
“However, we were playing against a very good team today. Their performances have shown that. They are a hard team to play against, in possession.
“So for my players to show what they did in different sides of the game, and to take something from the game, was very pleasing. I was really, really proud of what they did today.
"I’ve just used that description, going toe-to-toe, inside with the players just now.
“Because that’s what we did. Yes, we gave up the ball at times. You are going to do that against a really good side.
“But, in all aspects of the game we went toe-to-toe with Rangers. And they are obviously going to be up there at the end of the season.
“For us, eight games into the season, to be up where we are, have the points total and be around Rangers and Celtic – that’s because we’re a good side.
“And we’re a side with good players. I just remind the players constantly of that.
“I think they’ve grown in belief with every passing game.”
Rangers manager Gerrard was left aggrieved by referee Don Robertson not dishing out harsher punishment to Hibs defenders Paul Hanlon and Ryan Portoeus, who were both cautioned for first-half clashes with Ianis Hagi and Alfredo Morelos respectively.
However, when asked if he felt his players over-stepped the mark, Ross was firm, stating: "No. I can't answer it any more clearly than that. No,” before adding on whether the Hanlon incident was worthy of a red card: "I haven't watched it back yet, but I certainly didn't think so at the time."
Hibs’ next match against champions Celtic next Sunday in Glasgow and Ross wants his men to take heart from their performance against Rangers.
"We’re going to need that again at Parkhead next week,” said Ross. “But, if we produce similar aspects of our game, there’s no reason why we can’t go and take something from that match as well.”