Rangers 1-3 Hibs match story: Martin Boyle stuns the Scottish champions to earn a cup final date with Celtic

As Martin Boyle etched his name indelibly into Hibernian folklore with a stunning Hampden hat-trick, Rangers added yet another miserable entry to their wretched recent record in domestic cup competitions.

Martin Boyle celebrates opening the scoring for Hibs in their Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over Rangers at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Martin Boyle celebrates opening the scoring for Hibs in their Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over Rangers at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

There will be no early opportunity of silverware next month for new Ibrox manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst who looked on grimly from a seat in the stand as he waits to formally take up the role on Monday.

Instead, it is Hibs who will return to Hampden on December 19 for a Premier Sports Cup Final showdown with Celtic. After a turbulent few weeks for Jack Ross and his players, this was a memorable and admirable achievement.

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Rangers, with B team manager David McCallum calling the shots from the technical area as they tried to seamlessly bridge the gap between Steven Gerrard’s departure and van Bronckhorst’s appointment, were undone by the defensive uncertainty which has dogged them since the campaign began.

Martin Boyle evades Rangers captain James Tavernier to make it 2-0 to Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final at Hampden. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

For the 12th time this season, they conceded the first goal in a match. This time, there would be no way back for the Premiership leaders as Boyle followed up his early opener with two more before 40 minutes had elapsed. The Australian striker is the first Hibs player to score a hat-trick at the national stadium since Joe Harper back in 1974. They are also his first ever goals against Rangers, having previously scored against every other current top flight club in Scotland.

Scott Arfield reduced the deficit for Rangers before half-time but despite almost complete control of territory and possession after the break, they seldom looked likely to dig their way out of the hole they found themselves in.

The Rangers defence simply couldn’t cope with the pace and directness of Boyle in that extraordinary first half which must have made startling viewing for van Bronckhorst.

Although the champions looked the more likely side in the opening exchanges, with both Paul Hanlon and Joe Newell booked inside the first three minutes for cynical fouls on the vibrant Joe Aribo, it was Hibs who made their attacking moments count - and how.

Scott Arfield pulls a goal back for Rangers in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final against Hibs at Hampden. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Their ninth minute opener came from a corner forced by Kevin Nisbet. The vulnerability of the Rangers central defenders was exposed as Ryan Porteous got a slight nick on Newell’s inswinger from the right. The ball ricocheted off James Tavernier in the six yard box and Boyle pounced to sweep it high beyond Allan McGregor.

Aribo continued to carry the greatest threat for Rangers as they looked for a response and his clever turn and fine through ball set up Alfredo Morelos for an opportunity he should have done better with. The striker’s shot was straight at Matt Macey who saved comfortably.

Although Rangers were dominating possession, there was already a sense that there were more goals in the game for Hibs. So it proved when they made it 2-0 in the 21st minute.

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It was a smartly worked goal from Hibs’ perspective, another lamentably defended one from Rangers’ point of view.

From Paul McGinn’s throw-in, Newell and Nisbet were able to take a couple of uncontested touches to slice through the Rangers defence and play in Boyle who rattled a firm right foot shot to McGregor’s right and into the corner of the net.

Rangers were clearly rattled and their composure regularly deserted them in the attacking third as they tried to pull a goal back.

Aribo should have cut the ball back rather than attempt a shot which sailed over from a difficult angle, then Arfield steered a shot wide when the unmarked Morelos might have been the better option.

The Hibs support may have been vastly outnumbered but they were now making their presence well and truly felt. They could scarcely believe what they were witnessing when their team went 3-0 up seven minutes before the interval.

It was Boyle who was Rangers’ tormentor-in-chief once again as he was bundled over in the box by a clumsy challenge from Steven Davis. It was a clear-cut penalty decision for referee Kevin Clancy and there was no mistake from Boyle as he got up to smash the ball down the middle and beat McGregor who gambled wrongly on diving to his right.

Arfield threw Rangers a lifeline just two minutes later, seizing upon Porteous’ poor attempt to clear a Tavernier cross and calmly guiding a left foot shot wide of Macey’s right hand.

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With Hibs solid in defence and disciplined in midfield, where young Josh Campbell impressed alongside the excellent Newell, they were able to largely keep Rangers at arm's length in the second half.

McCallum threw on a raft of substitutes in a bid to salvage the situation, although the withdrawals of Kent and Aribo appeared curious in the circumstances.

Ryan Jack saw a shot deflected just wide before Leon Balogun badly miscued a free header from a Borna Barisic corner. When Connor Goldson missed an absolute sitter with two minutes remaining, blazing over from a few yards out, it was the signal for many of the Rangers fans to head for the exits.

For the Hibs fans, even the addition of five minutes of stoppage time was of little concern as they started to party and celebrate their club reaching the League Cup Final for the 11th time in their history.

Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun (Bassey 80), Barisic; Arfield (Hagi 69), Davis, Kamara (Wright 80); Aribo (Jack 69), Morelos, Kent (Sakala 61). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Patterson, Lundstram, Bacuna.

Hibernian (3-5-2): Macey, McGinn, Porteous (McGregor 80), Hanlon; Cadden, Doyle-Hayes, Campbell, Newell, Doig (Stevenson 58); Boyle, Nisbet (Doidge 80). Subs not used: Dabrowski, Wright, Gogic, Gullan, Allan, Scott.

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