Rangers unable to capitalise on road against Hibernian
For the third time this season Rangers failed to see off the challenge of Hibernian on Friday night with a 1-1 draw at Easter Road resulting from a game that the Ibrox men dominated.
Steven Gerrard made one change from Aberdeen with Andy Halliday coming in for Borna Barisic at left-back.
The visitors – wearing all-blue - went into this game conscious that they had failed to defeat their opponents during 2018, four games yielding three draws and an Ibrox victory for Hibernian by the odd goal in three.
Rangers took the game to the Edinburgh side right from the opening minutes – and might have opened the scoring on 11 minutes when a long cross-field pass from Daniel Candeias on the right found Ryan Kent whose cutback to Scott Arfield produced a shot that was deflected over.
A Paul Hanlon error nine minutes later when he stood on the ball allowed Alfredo Morelos to break through on goal only for the outrushing home ‘keeper Ofir Marciano to block his effort.
Andy Halliday should have done better in the 23rd minute when he sliced over an Arfield lay-off from a Kent cutback.
Two minutes later Kent, twisting and turning on the left, almost broke the deadlock with a low left-foot shot from the edge of the area that produced a one-handed save at full stretch from Marciano.
For all Rangers domination and pressure however the score-sheet remained blank as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark with the Easter Road rear-guard remaining solid and unbroken.
Glen Kamara and Arfield both had shots blocked in quick succession on 36 minutes, then 60 seconds later a snap-shot from Morelos was blocked.
Just when it appeared that the first-half was fated to end goalless, Rangers struck on 42 minutes when in a classic breakaway Kamara found Candeias on the right, his first effort - an angled drive – was blocked but when the ball broke back to the Portuguese winger, he coolly chipped the ball into the far corner of the net.
The Ibrox men were certainly worthy of their interval lead – but the half ended on a sour note when James Tavernier was attacked by a Hibs fan on the touchline.
Rangers restarted on the hunt for a killer second goal – but it was the home side who threatened ten minutes after the restart when Florian Kamberi shrugged off the challenge of Goldson down the left before finding Daryl Horgan with his cross, Allan McGregor coming to the rescue, diverting the ball clear.
Midway through the half Morelos was denied from a Kamara free-kick – his shot cleared off the line.
Hibernian however were carrying more of a threat than they had in the first-half – Stevie Mallan testing McGregor with a twenty-yarder that the ‘Gers ‘keeper turned wide.
Against the odds the Easter Road side levelled the scores on 75 minutes when a fine run by Marc McNulty produced a cross that was volleyed home by Kamberi.
Three minutes later Steven Gerrard made his first substitution of the evening when he threw on Jermain Defoe for Scott Arfield.
Hibs were now scenting the most unlikely of wins – Kamberi being denied by McGregor when he blocked his drive in the 82nd minute.
Former Ranger Darren McGregor received a second yellow card and consequent red for a foul on Jermain Defoe in the dying minutes.
With the last kick of the ball Andy Halliday struck the top of the crossbar with a 25-yard free-kick.
Best for a Rangers side who will surely rue the loss of two points that should have been comfortably secured were Andy Halliday, Daniel Candeias, Scott Arfield and Ryan Kent.
Hibernian: Marciano; Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson; Horgan (Bartley 90), Milligan, Mallan, Omeonga; McNulty, Kamberi
Unused Subs: Dabrowski, Bigirimana, Shaw, Murray, Mackie, Allan
Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Halliday; Candeias, Jack, Arfield (Defoe 78), Kamara, Kent; Morelos
Unused Subs: Foderingham, Davis, Flanagan, McCrorie, Katic, Coulibaly
Referee: Steven McLean