RANGERS made it five wins on the bounce in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon by beating Hibernian – but it was a match which ended in huge drama with Allan McGregor being sent off.
Jermain Defoe had Gers ahead in the first-half, and while they were comfortable for most of the match, McGregor was involved in an incident with Marc McNulty which saw him shown a straight red card, and the Light Blues having used all three subs, Ross McCrorie had to take over in goal.
Regardless, Gers held on to make it their best run in the top flight since winning promotion back in 2016.
Boss Steven Gerrard named an unchanged Rangers side to take on the Hibees, while on the bench, there was a place for Alfredo Morelos with the striker having completed his three-game suspension.
Gers were almost ahead inside a minute, with Scott Arfield glancing a header from a James Tavernier free-kick just wide of the target, while Jermain Defoe was to have a chance for an early opener as he saw his route to goal from a Tavernier corner blocked by Darren McGregor.
Arfield shot over the bar from distance on 16 minutes before three minutes later, Defoe fired wide of the target when put through to the right of goal by a fine Tavernier ball.
It was all Rangers in an attacking sense, with Ryan Kent next to go close, taking the ball on the edge of the box and shuffling away from McGregor but shooting straight into the gloves of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.
Marciano was called into action to save from Ryan Jack who drove for goal from 25-yards, and while the keeper’s save fell for Defoe, he couldn’t turn it home.
But with four minutes to go before half-time, the breakthrough arrived, and deservedly, it was that man Defoe who claimed the goal.
Ryan Jack’s super ball over the Hibs defence released Steven Davis to take the ball in his stride down the right. He could have gone for goal himself, but spotting Defoe to his left, Davis opted to pass.
It left a simple finish for Defoe around five-yards out from goal to hand his side a well-merited lead for their first-half efforts.
Half-time saw Daniel Candeias come on to replace Ryan Kent, with this being the Portuguese attacker’s 50th appearance for the club.
Indeed, Candeias should have made it 2-0 within four minutes of the restart, firing wide with just Marciano to beat, albeit from just to the right of goal, following terrific industry from Arfield to set him up.
It took until 64 minutes for Hibs to threaten properly, with Thomas Agyepong shooting wide from just inside the area before Ibrox rose to it’s feet to welcome the return of Alfredo Morelos from suspension on 74 minutes, replacing goalscorer Defoe.
He almost netted within five minutes, getting his head to the end of a Tavernier free-kick but nodding wide, while he had the ball in the net with four minutes left after Marciano palmed a Candeias shot into his path, but he was in an offside position.
Allan McGregor was then called into action for the first time in the match to make a quite stunning stop. Florain Kamberi found himself free at the back post, but McGregor denied him from point-blank range
Then, drama of a sort seldom seen at Ibrox.
Taking a kick-out, McGregor was involved in an altercation with Marc McNulty, with McGregor showna straight red by referee Bobby Madden.
Having used all three substitutes, it fell to Ross McCrorie to take the gloves.
Hibs weren’t able to trouble him, but incredily, he almost set-up Morelos for a goal with a booming clearance which went over the head of Darren McGregor and into the path of the Colombian, but Marciano came out to close the angle.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan; Davis, Kamara (McCrorie, 80), Jack; Arfield, Kent (Candeias, 45), Defoe (Morelos, 74).
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Worrall, Halliday, Barisic.
HIBERNIAN: Marciano, Gray, Hanlon, Milligan (Murray, 78), Horgan (Agyepong, 62), McNulty, Gauld (Kamberi, 62), Mallan, Stevenson, McGregor, Omeonga,
SUBS NOT USED: Bogdan, Bartley, Spector, Shaw.
REFEREE: Bobby Madden
ATTENDANCE: 49, 662