Rangers lose to Hibernian and fail to take advantage of Celtic slip
Rangers blew the chance to close ground on leaders Celtic as strikes from John McGinn and Jamie MacLaren handed Hibernian a 2-1 win at Ibrox.
The Ibrox men could have cut the gap on Brendan Rodgers’ men to 11 points with a game in hand by beating Neil Lennon’s side.
But despite cancelling out McGinn’s first-half opener with a Sean Goss free-kick, it was the Leith side who claimed the points.
Substitute MacLaren had been thrown on after just five minutes for the injured Brandon Barker and claimed the winner from the penalty spot with 15 minutes left.
Hibs’ second victory of the campaign in Govan sees them close to within two points of Gers in third, albeit having played a game more.
It was a 100mph start as play raged from end to end. Hibs came close to the opener on 10 minutes as Martin Boyle got to the byline before picking out MacLaren but the frontman was closed down by James Tavernier before he could finish.
The Australian did have the ball in the net moments later as he tucked home from Florian Kamberi’s cross – but was immediately flagged for offside.
It was Gers’ turn to threaten next but neither Josh Windass nor Jamie Murphy could beat Ofir Marciano after Leith defender Ryan Porteous was caught dithering.
The pace of the Hibs attack was causing Gers problems and they were lucky Kamberi’s finishing was weak after MacLaren burned past David Bates.
Porteous came to Hibs’ rescue on the half-hour mark as he prevented Alfredo Morelos slotting home after Windass picked out Daniel Candeias with a great ball over the top.
But it was Hibs who grabbed the initiative four minutes before the break.
Candeias was hesitant in midfield and paid the price as McGinn robbed possession before drilling into the corner of the net from 25 yards out.
Candeias, Goss and Morelos all came close as Gers stepped things up at the start of the second period.
Morelos thought he had levelled on 64 minutes as he headed home James Tavernier’s back-post free-kick but it was ruled out for offside.
The hungers missing for Rangers’ first half display was there in abundance by this point but Marciano was proving hard to beat as he foiled attempts from Jason Holt and Windass.
Murty cranked up the noise level by throwing on Jason Cummings against his old side and the lift had an almost immediate effect as Goss swept Gers level with a deft free-kick on 73 minutes.
Marciano got a hand to the strike as the on-loan QPR man clipped it over the wall but the keeper could do nothing as it dropped over the line.
But the hosts found themselves behind once more on quarter of an hour left as Tavernier’s needless barge on Scott Allan – making his second Hibs debut after rejoining from Dundee this week – handed Hibs a penalty, which was rammed home by MacLaren.
Gers again poured forward looking to salvage a point but were left frustrated as Porteous produced a heroic block to deny Russell Martin.