Hibernian 0-2 Rangers

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland

Nikica Jelavic's second-half double gave Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers a victory that proved a nightmare for Hibernian's Michael Hart.

Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths missed the only clearcut opportunity of a dour first half at Easter Road.

But the game came to life after the break and Jelavic scored from the spot on 61 minutes after Hart had fouled Lee Wallace.

Defender Hart was at fault as Jelavic headed the second eight minutes later.

Rangers' dogged display ensured a win that stretched their lead at the top of the table to seven points, at least until Celtic faced Hearts in their fixture in Glasgow later in the afternoon.

And it meant that Pat Fenlon began his spell as Hibs manager with a defeat.

The former Bohemians boss was denied a victory last Friday after the Edinburgh side's game at Motherwell was abandoned with Hibs leading 1-0 and it was no surprise that his starting line-up showed no changes.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist made three, one being forced on him following the controversial two-match ban handed to recent signing Sone Aluko after the forward was ruled to have dived during last week's narrow win over Dunfermline Athletic.

Fit-again Carlos Bocanegra and Lee Wallace came in along with Lee McCulloch, with Thomas Bendiksen and Kirk Broadfoot dropping to the bench.

Rangers have struggled to score from open play since losing Steven Naismith for the rest of the season through injury.

Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths
Griffiths missed an excellent chance to give Hibs the lead

Also denied the services of Aluko and the injured Kyle Lafferty, it left only Jelavic up front and, with both sides adopting formations with two holding midfielders, a stuffy match was ensured.

Rangers nevertheless started brightly and dominated the early possession but were held at bay by some timely interceptions inside the home box.

It was Hibs who were first to seriously threaten, although Lewis Stevenson's low 20-yard drive flashed across the face of goal wide.

Rangers were unfortunate to have Wallace pulled back for offside as the full-back was found in acres of space by a fine Gregg Wylde through ball.

Hibs should have taken the lead in stoppage time after Wallace failed with his attempt to clear Ivan Sproule's cutback from the bye-line and the unmarked Griffiths fired weakly straight at goalkeeper Allan McGregor from 14 yards.

The home side took heart from that and Sproule sliced a long-range effort wide from the edge of the penalty area before the half-time whistle sounded.

Hibs came out with fresh fire in their bellies and immediately peppered the Rangers penalty box with dangerous crosses.

Rangers manager McCoist had seen enough and brought on Bendiksen for the ineffectual Kyle Bartley.

The Norwegian, who made his first start last weekend, immediately injected some extra thrust and creativity into the visiting midfield.

He was heavily involved in the move that led to Wallace winning the ball on the bye-line inside the penalty box and hitting the deck after having his arm grabbed by Hart.

Jelavic slotted in the resulting penalty kick inside the post with ease.

Hibs responded by putting the Rangers defence under intense pressure, with Paul Hanlon heading just over when he rose unchallenged 12 yards out to meet a Sproule free-kick.

However, Rangers snuffed out the threatened comeback when Jelavic lost marker Hart and stooped to finish off an inswinging Wylde corner.

McGregor scooped a deflected cross from Hanlon off the goal-line after the ball looped over the goalkeeper's head, with Isaiah Osbourne slicing wide with the close-range follow-up as Hibs even failed to secure a late consolation.

Live text commentaryexternal-link

Top Stories