Rangers 1-0 Hibernian: Jermain Defoe strikes before Allan McGregor sees red
Ross McCrorie called upon as emergency goalkeeper after Allan McGregor red
Last Updated: 06/05/19 3:01pm
Rangers survived the closing stages of a 1-0 win over Hibernian with midfielder Ross McCrorie in goal after Allan McGregor was sent off.
McGregor got a straight red card for kicking Marc McNulty on his back immediately after clearing the ball out of his hands in the 89th minute.
Referee Bobby Madden booked McNulty and awarded Rangers a free-kick as the Hibs striker maintained his innocence.
The hosts saw out a dramatic finale without any major scare and took all three points courtesy of Jermain Defoe's 42nd-minute goal.
Defoe showed his renowned sharpness in the box to net his third goal in five games after being preferred to the returning Alfredo Morelos, who came close on several occasions after coming on as a late substitute on his return from a four-match ban.
Hibernian lacked a cutting edge as they suffered a first Scottish Premiership defeat under Paul Heckingbottom, 11 league games into his reign, and saw their slim hopes of a Europa League place disappear in the process.
Ryan Gauld made his first start for three months after a hamstring injury and the former Dundee United player lined up in an attack-minded midfield three behind McNulty.
Defoe threatened to get in behind several times in the opening stages but Hibs were also getting forward and Gauld flashed a header wide.
The former England striker got his first real opening in the 19th minute when James Tavernier's pass sent him through but he dragged his shot wide.
Ryan Kent shot straight at Ofir Marciano after Hibs lost the ball midway inside their half and Defoe passed up another chance when he could not react quickly enough as the Hibs goalkeeper spilled Ryan Jack's low drive.
A forward run from Steven Davis finally broke the visitors' resistance. Jack found him in space on the left edge of the box and the Northern Ireland midfielder delivered a first-time pass which Defoe swept home from eight yards after getting ahead of Lewis Stevenson, who appealed in vain for offside.
Daniel Candeias missed a great chance moments after coming on as a half-time sub for Kent, shooting wide from 14 yards after being set up brilliantly by Scott Arfield.
Hibs were making no inroads and Heckingbottom brought on winger Thomas Agyepong and striker Florian Kamberi just after the hour mark and switched to a 4-4-2.
Agyepong soon fired a shot just wide after David Gray's run and Kamberi wasted a chance to set up McNulty on a counter-attack.
Morelos came on to a hero's welcome in the 74th minute and went close with a header from Tavernier's free-kick.
Candeias had an effort saved and the visitors' best chance came in the 87th minute as Fraser Murray's deflected cross found Kamberi unmarked at the back post but McGregor produced a brilliant stop.
The goalkeeper then created unnecessary tension and got himself a suspension for next week's visit of Celtic, but it was Rangers who came closest in the final stages with Morelos twice denied by Marciano as McCrorie had no chance to show his goalkeeping prowess.