How high-flying Hibernian earned a point against Rangers as Ibrox club lose ground in title race

Rangers moved back to the top of the Scottish Premiership table but it was a day when the Ibrox club would feel they lost ground in the title race nonetheless.

How high-flying Hibernian earned a point against Rangers as Ibrox club lose ground in title race

Steven Gerrard’s side appeared to have responded effectively to conceding their first goal of the league campaign, cancelling out Drey Wright’s opener for Hibs with strikes from Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield.

But Jack Ross’ men displayed impressive resilience of their own to level again through Christian Doidge and maintain their own progressive start to the season with a point which keeps them in touch with the Old Firm.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Rangers remain unbeaten but that will be of minimal comfort to Gerrard after he saw his previously watertight defence display a vulnerability which cost them two points. They are now a point clear of Celtic but the champions have a game in hand they will be confident they can fully exploit.

For the first time in 652 minutes of league action this season, Rangers were reacquainted with the experience of retrieving the ball from their own net.

The lead Wright’s 22nd minute strike gave Hibs hardly reflected the balance of play but it made Rangers pay for their own failure to convert any of the excellent opportunities they had created at the other end of the pitch during a dominant opening spell.

Ianis Hagi had a loud and optimistic appeal for a penalty ignored by referee Don Robertson in the fourth minute, the Romanian just too theatrical in the manner he went down under a challenge from Paul McGinn.

Rangers should have gone in front six minutes later when Morelos passed up the simplest of chances. James Tavernier’s corner from the right was perfectly weighted and delivered for Morelos as the striker escaped the attention of his marker Alex Gogic on the edge of the six yard box. But he got his connection with the header horribly wrong, sending the ball well wide of Ofir Marciano’s right hand post.

Rangers were knocking the ball around with pace and precision and a fine move involving Tavernier and Hagi down the right set up their next clear sight of goal for Arfield but the midfielder’s first time shot was too close to McGinn who was able to make a crucial block.

Another well delivered corner, this time from Borna Barisic on the left, then picked out Connor Goldson but the big defender was unable to get any significant purchase on his header which was easily held by Marciano.

There was nothing straightforward about the save Jon McLaughlin had to make in the 18th minute as Hibs finally emerged as an attacking force. Gerrard’s decision to pick McLaughlin ahead of the fit-again Allan McGregor may have raised some eyebrows but the former Hearts man justified his manager’s faith as he dived to his right for a brilliant one-handed stop to keep out Kevin Nisbet’s shot after the Hibs striker had done well to turn away from Goldson to create the opening.

But McLaughlin was beaten four minutes later as that record-breaking run of shut-outs came to an end. Martin Boyle did well to shake himself free of Barisic on the right to whip over a low cross which found Wright around 12 yards out and his firm low shot went through the legs of McLaughlin.

Rangers appeared temporarily shaken by the setback and Hibs were relatively comfortable with their lead for a spell. But the visitors gradually got back onto the front foot and Ryan Porteous and Hibs skipper Paul Hanlon both collected bookings for respective fouls on Morelos and Hagi as Rangers increased the tempo.

The tone of both manager’s half-time team talks were altered when Morelos levelled matters for Rangers in stoppage time. It was a well worked goal, Rangers showing patience in the build-up before Ryan Kent floated over a cross from the right. The ball seemed to take the slightest of touches off the head of McGinn before dropping to Morelos who finished with considerable conviction from close range.

The first opportunity of the second half fell to Hibs when Joe Newell’s corner picked out Hanlon but the defender’s header was comfortably held by McLaughlin.

Rangers soon re-established control of proceedings, however, and their territorial dominance was rewarded when they went in front in the 57th minute. Tavernier, exploiting the freedom he was being given to surge forward whenever possible, sparked a clever move which saw Arfield exchange passes with Hagi to wrongfoot the Hibs defence before clipping home a shot which beat Marciano via the inside of his right hand post.

Marciano kept Hibs in contention with a smart save which kept out a shot from Kent after the winger had raced clear through the middle onto Hagi’s pass.

Hibs should have equalised in the 66th minute when Nisbet was guilty of a remarkable miss. After McLaughlin had done well to keep out an effort from Porteous, the ball broke kindly to Nisbet on the edge of the six yard box. With the goal at his mercy, he contrived to make no contact whatsoever and in the scramble which followed, Doidge’s effort was blocked by Steven Davis.

Helander might have done better than head a Kent corner just wide of Marciano’s left hand post and Rangers were punished for their failure to increase their lead when Hibs made it 2-2 in the 71st minute.

Goldson was guilty of giving the ball away cheaply in the build-up, allowing Hibs to engineer a good position for Boyle on the left. His cross was met by the eager Doidge who outmuscled Helander before guiding a good header beyond McLaughlin.

Gerrard replaced Hagi with Jermain Defoe in a bid to re-energise his attack for the closing stages. But it was Arfield who came closest to grabbing a winner for the visitors, the midfielder denied by a tremendous double save from Marciano with 10 minutes remaining.