Steven Gerrard hails Rangers goal hero Ianis Hagi but admits Ibrox pitch is awful
Steven Gerrard heaped praise on Ianis Hagi’s match winning display on an Ibrox pitch described as ‘awful’ by the Rangers manager.
On-loan Genk midfielder Hagi marked his first starting appearance for Rangers with a brilliant 84th minute goal as Gerrard’s men came from behind to beat Hibs 2-1.
It was a vital strike for Rangers who remain on the coattails of Celtic at the top of the Premiership, trailing the champions by seven points with a game in hand.
Romanian international Hagi’s contribution came on his famous father Gheorghe’s 55th birthday and the quality of his first time finish both surprised and delighted Gerrard.
“I was shouting at him to take a touch,” said the former Liverpool captain. “What do I know?
"It was a fantastic finish and his second half performance deserved to win the match for us. He was outstanding. It’s his dad’s birthday as well, so it’s a nice moment for him.
“He’s a top talent, I said it when he arrived. His performance grew as the game went on. In the first half tonight, he was coming to terms with Scottish football and people knocking him about.
“In the second half, he was much stronger. He’s a brave player, he will receive the ball in any situation and any area of the pitch. Even if he makes a mistake, he won’t shy away.”
Rangers again struggled to find fluency for long spells in what was their fifth home fixture in just over two weeks since the winter break.
While Gerrard was pleased to avoid dropping any more points in the title race, he admitted the condition of the Ibrox playing surface is a concern.
“The pitch is awful,” he said. “Yeah, it’s awful. We are trying (to sort it), we are trying. I’m happy with what is a big win and three important points.
“It was exactly what we needed. We got frustrated in the first half, tried to complicate things. We could feel the groans and frustrations of fans.
“I asked players at half-time to lift the crowd and get back to performances from earlier in the season. We deserved to win by more in the end, we were the ones creating all the chances.”
Hibs manager Jack Ross took consolation from a more competitive display by his team who had been comprehensively beaten in their two previous games against Rangers this season.
“I was proud of the effort,” said Ross. “We were resolute, disciplined and hardworking. I’m hugely frustrated not to take anything from the game but there were a lot of positives.”