Rangers 1-0 Hibernian
Last updated on .From the section Football
Kyle Lafferty pounced on a Gregg Wylde cross to put Rangers into a commanding position at the top of the table as they edged out Hibernian at Ibrox.
Keeper Graham Stack was impressive for the visitors, but he fouled Lafferty to hand Rangers a 45th-minute penalty that Steven Whittaker' blazed over the bar.
Paul Hanlon bulleted a header wide for Hibs and Allan McGregor saved at the feet of Junior Agogo as Hibs pressed.
But, in 68 minutes, Lafferty tapped the ball home to make the breakthrough.
Rangers went into the match knowing a win would extend their lead over title rivals Celtic into double figures, but prior to kick-off Ibrox coach Kenny McDowall told BBC Scotland there had been no mention of this in the home dressing-room.
Hibs might have wished the fixture schedule had been kinder, with Ibrox a difficult venue for any Scottish Premier League team wishing to build its fragile confidence.
Yet Colin Calderwood's side held firm in the first half, though they rarely threatened McGregor's home goal.
Wylde and Steven Davis were the players showing most guile in the middle of the park and the former had two good chances to break the deadlock.
Wylde fired an effort that Stack palmed away for a corner, then Nikica Jelavic, Rangers' centre-forward, teed up his young team-mate, but he hammered his effort over the bar.
And the Croat had a similar fate when, after much deliberation, he ballooned a free-kick over the Hibs crossbar as Rangers pressed for the opener.
On that theme, a Wylde cross had Stack grasping thin air before Hanlon made a timely intervention to head the ball clear and soon Hibs had a chance of their own.
In 35 minutes, the Leith side broke quickly through Ivan Sproule and the Hibs winger drew a save by McGregor.
As half-time approached, the action reverted to the Hibs goal, with Stack racing from his line to narrow the angle to block a Jelavic shot, then the goalie bringing down Kyle Lafferty to concede a penalty.
Up stepped Whittaker, but the former Hibee blasted his spot-kick over the bar and trudged off at half-time with his head down.
Hibs' counter-attacking threat revealed itself when Sproule advanced early in the second period, but his pass for on-form striker Garry O'Connor, in an excellent position, was heavy.
As the home fans squirmed, Hanlon headed Martin Scott's cross wide of the near post when he ought to have hit the target, then McGregor saved bravely in a one-on-one situation with Agogo when the Ghanaian had been set up perfectly by O'Connor.
Agogo hit the loose ball into the side netting as Hibs sought their fifth goal in as many SPL away games.
That chance would haunt Hibs 10 minutes later when they failed to deal with Wylde's dangerous cross into the box.
Jelavic was in the danger area, but the ball came through to Lafferty to knock the ball home from six yards to ease the tension at Ibrox.
Rangers had two "goals" chopped off for offside before Davis' shot from 18 yards was saved brilliantly by the impressive Hibs keeper, but one goal was enough for the home side to stay nine points clear of Motherwell and move 10 clear of inactive Celtic.