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Hibernian vs Rangers. Scottish Premiership.

Easter Road.

Hibernian 0

    Rangers 1

    • A Morelos (51st minute)

    Hibernian 0-1 Rangers: Alfredo Morelos strikes to maintain 23-point lead

    Alfredo Morelos scores the winner as Rangers beat Hibernian 1-0 at Easter Road to maintain their 23-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership; Morelos avoids red card after incident with Hibernian's Ryan Porteous

    Hibs v Rangers
1:58
    Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Rangers.

    Rangers maintained their 23-point lead at the top of the Premiership after Alfredo Morelos scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Hibernian at Easter Road.

    The Colombian striker's 11th goal of the season six minutes after the break was enough to secure the three points for Steven Gerrard's side after an earlier flashpoint with Ryan Porteous in the first half where he could have been sent off inside 15 minutes after appearing to stamp on the Hibs defender.

    Morelos was free to slot home the only goal of the game just after half-time as Steven Gerrard's team ticked off another of the challenges before them in their quest for Premiership glory.

    Rangers' Alfredo Morelos appears to stand on Hibernian's Ryan Porteous
    Image: Morelos appears to stand on Hibernian's Ryan Porteous

    Rangers now need just eight more wins to clinch their first league crown in a decade having survived a trip to a venue that has been particularly problematic during Gerrard's reign.

    Hibs were hoping to redeem themselves in the eyes of their supporters having flopped so miserably in Saturday's Betfred Cup semi-final, but they missed the chance to reclaim third place from Aberdeen.

    preview image 0:23
    Was Ranger's striker Alfredo Morelos lucky to escape a red card after this tackle on Hibs' Ryan Porteous.

    Gerrard, who admitted earlier this week he would have the rutted Easter Road pitch in mind when naming his team, added the steel of Ryan Jack to his line-up while Darren McGregor, Christian Doidge and Melker Hallberg returned for Hibs after their Hampden defeat to St Johnstone.

    The poor surface did little to help either side in the final third. Joe Aribo scampered through on goal but could only fire straight at Ofir Marciano after allowing himself to drift wide.

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    Then came the Morelos flashpoint. The striker's foot connected with Porteous' knee as he lost his balance on the soft turf but Hibs players protested to the referee after the incident.

    Rangers' Alfredo Morelos makes it 1-0
    Image: Rangers' Alfredo Morelos makes it 1-0

    Hibs then squandered the best chance of the first half as they looked to open the scoring.

    Allan McGregor spilled a Chris Cadden cross which appeared to be sneaking in at the front post but then called for a foul as he believed he had the rebound under control as Doidge stole it away from him to set up Jackson Irvine who blazed a golden chance over.

    Porteous dusted himself off after his run-in with Morelos and put in a vital block to deny the striker after Ryan Kent had jinked his way in from the left.

    Rangers' Filip Helander (left) battles with Hibernian's Christian Doidge
    Image: Rangers' Filip Helander (left) battles with Hibernian's Christian Doidge

    But the Scotland squad member was guilty of switching off six minutes after the restart as Morelos grabbed the opener.

    He had the striker within arm's reach but let him wander free as Jack's pass into Steven Davis was flicked round the corner by the Northern Irishman and similarly again by Aribo to leave Morelos free to fire home.

    Morelos will blame the pitch for his failure to make it 2-0 soon after as Kent's low ball across goal, nudged on again by Aribo, bobbled up just as he looked set for a tap in at the back post.

    Porteous drew complaints from the visiting bench when he put Kent up in the air with a firm challenge, and there was another flashpoint with Jack in the second half, with the Rangers midfielder less than impressed from a challenge from the Hibs defender.

    Rangers' Joe Aribo is closed down by Hibernian's Darren McGregor as he has a shot on goal  during a Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Rangers at Easter Road
    Image: Rangers' Joe Aribo is closed down by Hibernian's Darren McGregor

    Darren McGregor had his name taken after appearing to tread on Glen Kamara's ankle after he bundled the Rangers midfielder to the ground.

    A sublime Kent pass put Morelos through again but when he hesitated, Paul McGinn was able to save Hibs.

    Marciano then kept out a fierce Kent strike but Rangers had already done enough to secure the points.

    What the managers said

    Hibernian boss Jack Ross insists Alfredo Morelos should have been sent off before he got the chance to fire Rangers another step closer to the title at Easter Road.

    Ross said: "It's a red card. You can ask me and I don't think my opinion is going to be different to every single person here and every single person who watched it. It's quite an easy one to say it should be a red card but obviously it's been missed by the match officials.

    "I wouldn't use it as an excuse for how we lost the goal. We defended brilliantly throughout the game and that was one lapse for us. We should have defended the goal better, irrespective of who scores it.

    "I'm not going to put that as an excuse for conceding but I would point to the fact that he shouldn't have been on the pitch, but I think that's plain for everyone to see."

    Steven Gerrard preferred to focus on the display of his team rather than the Morelos incident. He said: "I haven't had time to look at any of the incidents from the game. I remember a few from both sides - but I'd rather talk about the performance and the level of it.

    "It was another fantastic team goal. Alfredo will deserve the credit for finishing it off. I took him off at the weekend to have him really fresh for tonight because I knew he'd have to do a lot of running.

    "I knew we weren't coming here to play a technical game. We wanted to really find the space and when we got into the final third then show our quality. I've just given a little bit of my gameplan away there but the lads went out and executed it extremely well.

    "But I think we deserved that team goal because of the application we've given to the game. This was a tough fixture. People on the outside would have looked at it as one where we could have a bit of a bump but our performance deserved what we're taking away from here tonight."

    What's next?

    Rangers are without a fixture this weekend but host St Johnstone in a midweek match at Ibrox on February 3, while Hibernian travel to Dundee United on Saturday.

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