Hibernian: Victory over Rangers keeps title hopes alive - O'Neill

By Jonathan SutherlandBBC Scotland
Hibs are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions
Hibs are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions

Former Hibernian midfielder Michael O'Neill believes his old club can win the Championship title.

Hibs reduced the gap at the top of the table to five points with a 2-1 victory over leaders Rangers at Easter Road.

O'Neill thinks it was vital for Hibs' hopes of topping the table that they emerged victorious from that match.

"Had it gone to 11 points or even remained at eight points between the teams, that gap that would have been difficult to close," said O'Neill.

Rangers had enjoyed a 100% winning record in the league this season before the trip to Edinburgh.

But the victory for Alan Stubbs' men brought them right back into the mix and extended their own unbeaten run to 11 matches in all competitions.

Northern Ireland manager O'Neill was in attendance on Sunday and was impressed with the home side's display, although he believes Rangers remain favourites for automatic promotion.

"I can't see Rangers dropping many points between now and the end of the season, so Hibs are going to have to be hugely consistent," he told BBC Scotland.

"I do think they're going to have to beat Rangers again, probably at Ibrox later on in the fixtures.

"I still think Rangers are the favourites."

O'Neill led Northern Ireland to qualification for Euro 2016
O'Neill led Northern Ireland to qualification for Euro 2016

O'Neill - who played for Hibs from 1993 to 1996 after four years at Dundee United - thinks the transfer business conducted by both clubs in the January window could have a significant bearing in the race for the top spot.

"It'll be interesting to see if the gap stays as it is or even closes further between now and the January transfer window, who has the ability to go out and strengthen their squad," he added.

"Alan's got a really good squad - great energy in the middle of the pitch, but I think Rangers have also signed very well.

"It'll be interesting to see what the situation is around the loan players that they have there, if they are there for the whole season or if some have to go back in January. Those could be key factors in who ends up on top."

The former Shamrock Rovers boss believes Scottish football would benefit from having both clubs back in the top flight.

"I feel both teams would enhance the Scottish Premiership, and ultimately I hope that's the case, that they both go up."