IT was to be a dream day for summer signings James Tavernier, Martyn Waghorn and Andy Halliday as their goals helped take Rangers through to the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup.
In what was a quite extraordinary afternoon in the capital which saw eight goals scored, six for the Light Blues, it was Hibs’ Sam Stanton who broke the deadlock after 15 minutes with a terrific effort and from there the drama was relentless.
Before the half-time whistle a blistering free-kick from the impressive Tavernier and a tidy finish from Waghorn put Mark Warburton’s men ahead and Waghorn then increased the lead to 3-1 a minute after the restart.
A penalty from Jason Cummings prior to the hour mark meant the travelling Bears were back biting their nails but a delightful 25-yard curling strike from Halliday, followed by a stunning double from super sub Kenny Miller, secured a remarkable victory at Easter Road.
The game, as expected, started at a breakneck and in the first minute Tavernier showed his pace and attacking intent with an athletic 50-yard diagonal run.
At the other end of the pitch a chipped cross to the back post found Cummings in space but his downward header was blocked when he should perhaps have done better.
The same could be said for his striker partner Dominique Malonga who, on seven minutes, sclaffed a shot over Wes Foderingham’s bar after Lewis Stevenson produced a low cross from the left.
Rangers, while looking comfortable in possession, were leaving pockets of space for Alan Stubbs’ men to get into and on 15 minutes they were punished.
Stanton, from 20 yards, had time to glance up before he unleashed a ferocious drive which whizzed across Foderingham before nestling in the bottom corner of the net behind him.
Rangers now had to find a way to get back into the game and on 20 minutes Templeton found Wallace overlapping on the left. His cutback was met by Jason Holt but the former Hearts man could only put his shot wide while under pressure from two Hibs defenders.
Stubbs was forced to make his first change to his side with the half hour mark approaching with Lewis Allan taking the place of the injured Malonga in attack.
With both sides struggling to make clear-cut chances in the 10 minutes or so that followed, a clumsy challenge from Paul Hanlon on Holt inches outside the Hibs 18-yard box presented Rangers with an opportunity to get back on level terms.
With a couple of players standing over the free-kick alongside Tavernier, it was the former Wigan full back that curled a delightful effort over the wall and into the top corner of Mark Oxley’s goal.
It was a moment of quality from the Gers number 2 on his competitive debut and it was to get even better for the visitors a couple of minutes before the break when Waghorn also opened his account for his new club.
Good play from Tavernier and Holt on the right resulted in the latter playing a cutback cross to the English striker who scrambled the ball into the net to the delight of the travelling Bears.
It was a remarkable twist to a first-half which, from a Rangers’ perspective, was at times frustrating but Warburton’s men managed to dig deep and score two excellent goals to turn the tie on its head before the start of the second period.
With no further personnel changes made for the restart the Light Blues were now shooting towards their own supporters, and a minute in they were out of their seats celebrating again as Waghorn made it 3-1.
Danny Wilson floated a long ball over the Hibs defence for the powerful forward to run on to but he appeared to be too far out on the left to try a shot.
But with his confidence high, the 25-year-old smashed a powerful drive from the tightest of angle which crept under Oxley before rippling the net once again.
The Hibs keeper should have done better but Waghorn and his teammates weren’t caring about that as they celebrated with the jubilant Rangers supporters.
With a two-goal cushion in place it was looking good for Warburton’s side but the drama from this pulsating tie was not over yet, far from it.
On 59 minutes Danny Wilson brought down Jason Cummings in the box and it was the 19-year-old who placed the ball on the spot before coolly sending Foderingham the wrong way with his penalty.
With the score now 3-2 in Rangers’ favour and Kenny Miller and Dean Shiels introduced to the game, fans in the ground wondered what would happen next and Halliday provided the answer with a moment of magic.
With 62 minutes on Easter Road’s electronic scoreboard the playmaker found space 25 yards from Oxley’s goal and he curled a sublime shot into the opposite top corner.
Such was the accuracy of his effort the ball struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing into the roof of the net and this gave Halliday the chance to savour a moment he would have dreamt about since he was a young lad growing up a stone’s throw from Ibrox Stadium.
With the clock ticking down Rangers continued to push forward and they got two more goals through Miller on 77 and 81 minutes.
The former Scotland hitman got on the end of great deliveries from Nicky Clark and Barrie McKay to score from close range and give his side a famous 6-2 victory against his former club.
HIBERNIAN: Oxley, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Forster (S. Allan 53), Stevenson, Fyvie, Stanton, Martin, Malonga (L. Allan 25), Cummings.
SUBS NOT USED: Reguero, Harris, Dunsmore, Crane, Sinclair
GOALS: Stanton 15, Cummings 60pen
BOOKINGS: Fyvie, S. Allan
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace, Holt (Shiels 60), Halliday, Law; McKay, Waghorn (Clark 74), Templeton (Miller 60).
SUBS NOT USED: Kelly, McGregor, Aird, Thompson.
GOALS: Tavernier 39, Waghorn 44, 47 Halliday 62 Miller 77, 81
BOOKINGS: McKay, Shiels
REF: William Collum