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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 00:52 GMT
Leaders Rangers subdue Hibs
Shota Arveladze congratulates Claudio Caniggia at Easter Road
Scorer Caniggia (right) was a second-half substitute
Hibernian 0-2 Rangers

Rangers survived intense second-half pressure before securing a victory that maintained their thee-point lead over Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.

Captain Barry Ferguson edged Rangers ahead with a superb opener and his 16th goal of the season.

Hibs threatened to equalise, but an excellent breakaway seven minutes from time was completed by substitute Claudio Caniggia.

It was Alex McLeish's third victory over his former club at Easter Road this season.

Barry Ferguson shows his joy at scoring
Rangers' Barry Ferguson opened the scoring
McLeish had been forced to make a change from the side that eased past Arbroath in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.

Bob Malcolm came in for Lorenzo Amoruso at the back following the Italian's head injury at Gayfield.

The home side gave a first start since November to Garry O'Connor, who had suffered a broken foot in a 2-1 defeat at Ibrox, and the Scotland striker replaced veteran Mixu Paatelainen.

Hibs pushed forward from the start and midfielder Ian Murray should have done better than scuff his shot wide after goalkeeper Stefan Klos's punch fell nicely for him at the edge of the box.

Both sides had to resort to some desperate, last-ditch interventions inside their own box to protect their goal as the action moved from end to end.

Rangers' best effort of the first half was the result of a Neil McCann cross that was headed down by Shota Arveladze but bounced over the bar.

A curling free-kick from Ferguson was also just off target.

Maurice Ross came to Rangers' rescue at the other end to hack away an Alen Orman cross from in front of goal.

Paul Fenwick beats Rangers' Fernando Ricksen to the ball
Hibs gave Rangers a tough battle
Arthur Numan came close to conceding a penalty immediately after the restart, but referee Kenny Clark ruled that he had hauled down Derek Townsley outside the box.

Craig Moore headed just wide at the other end, but it was Hibs who were now dominating.

O'Connor came just as close from Hibs' next move when he fired across goal and wide from the edge of the box.

Ferguson opened the scoring after 58 minutes, gathering a Ronald de Boer pass before finishing emphatically by blasting high past Colgan.

Grant Brebner, Saturday's hat-trick hero for the home side, almost produced an equaliser, but his header from a McManus cross was saved low on his line by Klos.

And Caniggia finished off a superb break involving Arveladze and McCann before Hibs' misery was completed by a red card for dissent by defender Gary Smith.

Hibernian: Colgan, Smith, Fenwick (O'Neil 69), Zambernardi, Orman, Townsley, Wiss, Murray, Brebner, McManus, O'Connor.
Subs Not Used: Westwater, Jack, Doumbe, Reid.

Sent Off: Smith (90).

Booked: Fenwick, Orman, Murray, Smith.

Rangers: Klos, Moore, Malcolm, Numan, Ross, Ricksen, Ferguson, McCann, de Boer, Arveladze, Mols (Caniggia 69).
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Nerlinger, Konterman, McLean.

Booked: Numan, Caniggia.

Attendance: 13,686

Referee: K Clark.

Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

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