Rangers 2 - 0 Hibernian (first leg)

Glasgow Rangers took another major stride towards a return to the Scottish Premiership, with a 2-0 victory against Hibernian at Ibrox last night. With the second leg of their semi-final play-off still to come at mid-day on Saturday at Easter Road, Hibs will need to dig deep if they are to stage a comeback. Goals from Nicky Clark and veteran Scottish international Kenny Miller gave 'The Gers' what could prove to be a priceless advantage.

The away side had perhaps looked the more likely to score in the early stages, until a moment of class from Haris Vuckic led to the breakthrough a minute before the break.

Advertisements
Advertisements

The Slovenian midfielder scooped the ball over the defence, Richard Foster crossed and Clark was on hand to slot the ball home from close range.

Hibs had their chances in the second period to get on the score-sheet, but their best chance was wasted when Dominque Malonga headed over from inside the six-yard box.

35-year-old Miller made it 2-0 to the home side on 63 minutes. A long range effort from Dean Shiels took a deflection off a defender, allowing Miller to strike a crisp right-foot shot past the Hibs' keeper Mark Oxley. Rangers closed the game down successfully thereafter to preserve their hard-earned advantage.

Hibs finished one place and three points above their rivals after the regular season, but also had the better of the head to heads against them. Rangers' latest victory levelled the score on that particular front at three wins apiece for the season so far (including one early season cup match).

Advertisements

All is not lost for the Edinburgh side though, as they have already defeated Rangers 4-0 at home back in December. Can they replicate that feat when the pressure is really on them? Manager Alan Stubbs certainly believes so and said as much to BBC Scotland. Should they get the first goal at home then the tie will be back in the balance. Stubbs believes (of the tie) that "it's still got the potential to go 120 minutes." He certainly saw enough from his side to suggest that they can cause Rangers problems on their own patch.

Rangers' boss Stuart McCall concurred with Stubbs' assessment that the first leg result was slightly harsh on Hibs. With a corner count of 13-1 in the visitors' favour, they probably should have had more to show for their endeavours, yet they only managed one shot on target. McCall said that "Hibs showed what a good side they are," adding that his side will "have to defend as well as we did tonight" to clinch the result in the second leg.

Both sides will still have ambitions of making the play-off final against Motherwell, with the winner of that match taking their place in the Premiership next season.

Advertisements

Rangers also received welcome news off the pitch this week, as Dave King was confirmed as passing the Scottish FA's "fit and proper" checks. The millionaire who is based in South Africa is the expected new chairman for the club, and was watching on as the players faced Hibs last night. #Football