Hibs 1-2 Rangers: Josh Windass, Alfredo Morelos score in the gritty comeback
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 13/12/17 10:17pm
Late first-half strikes from Josh Windass and Alfredo Morelos handed Rangers an unlikely 2-1 comeback victory against Hibernian at Easter Road.
Hibs took a deserved lead through Lewis Stevenson's deflected effort (9) but Rangers emphatically rallied back late in the first half through goals from Englishman Windass (42) and their Colombian forward Morelos (45+2).
Neil Lennon's men pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half, with Manchester City loanee Brandon Barker hitting the post twice, but they could not find a positive result as Rangers held on for a crucial victory.
Rangers' hard-fought win means they remain equal on points with third-placed Aberdeen but still five off runaway leaders Celtic. Hibernian, meanwhile, stay in fourth.
Hibernian: Marciano (5), Hanlon (6), McGregor (6), Ambrose (6), Stevenson (7), Boyle (7), McGinn (6), McGeouch (5), Murray (5), Stokes (5), Shaw (6)
Subs: Barker (7), Whittaker (N/A)
Rangers: Foderingham (8), Tavernier (6), Alves (5), Wilson (6), John (6), McCrorie (5), Holt (6), Barjonas (6), Windass (7), Miller (N/A), Morelos (7)
Subs: Candeias (5), Bates (N/A), Herrera (N/A)
Man of the Match: Wes Foderingham
Lennon's side got off to an ideal start thanks to some poor defending from Rangers' Bruno Alves. In the ninth minute, teenage striker Oli Shaw easily beat the Portuguese defender before squaring it to Stevenson whose effort deflected off Alves and in.
The misery was piled on Rangers further as talisman Kenny Miller had to be stretchered off with a hamstring problem.
Hibs continued to push forward as Wes Foderingham was forced into making two strong saves in an entertaining first half. In the 26th minute, the former Swindon goalkeeper denied Paul Hanlon on the left flank before Martin Boyle tested him on the opposite side a minute later.
For Hibs, McGregor, Murray and Shaw came in for Bartley, Barker and Whittaker.
For Rangers, Morelos and Barjonas entered the team in place of Candeias and Pena.
But for all of Hibs' dominance, Rangers scored two goals at the end of the half. Windass surged forward and struck low past Ofir Marciano to equalise shortly before Morelos burst beyond Paul Hanlon and fired in from close range.
The hosts spurned a great opportunity to level the contest in the 49th minute as Boyle's low ball to the near post was completely missed by Simon Murray. Eight minutes later and Morelos should have extended Rangers' lead but he somehow scuffed his free header, from close range, wide.
Hibs remained on the front foot as substitute Barker found the post twice. The 21-year-old saw his curled effort come off the woodwork eight minutes before Foderingham tipped his drilled strike onto the opposite pole.
With the clock winding down, Hibs had an appeal for a penalty turned down in the 77th minute after substitute David Bates appeared to handle the ball in the box, but referee Kevin Clancy did not award a spot-kick. And even with Hibs continuing the pressure, Rangers held on for their fourth consecutive league win under caretaker boss Graeme Murty.
Graeme Murty: "It was an evening to be endured rather than enjoyed. They put a lot of balls into the box and I don't think we did that well to stop them from coming in. I don't think we pressed the ball well which is why I put David on to defend the box. We rode our luck at times but we'll take it."
Neil Lennon: "The referee didn't give a penalty when he should have done. It was a blatant handball. I'm going to try to speak to him but is there any real point? It's the clearest penalty you will ever see for a handball.
"Maybe Kevin [Clancy] didn't get a look at it but the linesman was looking right at it. My players don't cheat, they know its a penalty. It's hard to put into words how good we were. Second half we were sensational."
Man of the Match - Wes Foderingham
Foderingham's team-mates have a lot to thank him for after pulling off a number of crucial stops to deny Hibs a route back into the match.
His highlights included parrying away Boyle's dangerous cross which looked like Barker would pounce on before quickly denying him again as he tipped his powerful strike onto the post.
Rangers take on St Johnstone at Ibrox on Saturday. Hibernian, meanwhile, will travel to Pittodrie to take on Derek McInnes' Aberdeen in a 12.30pm kick-off on the same day.