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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 14:22 GMT
Hibernian 1-2 Rangers
By Colin Moffat

Rangers celebrate another valubale three points on the road
Rangers were comfortable winners at Easter Road
Rangers picked up a remarkably easy three points with a polished display at Easter Road.

With Hibs hopelessly out-of-sorts in every department, Steven Naismith fired the visitors in front with an early strike from close range.

Daniel Cousin added a second goal on 59 minutes, smashing in an impressive shot from the edge of the penalty area.

The home side created very little until Merouane Zemmama lashed in a great angled strike with two minutes left.

Rangers move top of the SPL but Celtic have the chance to reclaim the lead when they entertain Gretna.

Hibs, missing injured strikers Steven Fletcher and Abdessalam Benjelloun, beat Rangers at Ibrox earlier in the season but at no stage threatened to repeat the trick.

Chris Burke made a lively start to the match on the right flank and it was the Rangers winger's good work that led to the opening goal on 11 minutes.

He drifted past Ross Chisholm and cut into the penalty area before drilling a low cross through the legs of Rob Jones for Naismith to smash in from a few yards out at the back post.

The game raged from end to end at a rapid rate of knots but, with both sides deploying a lone striker, moves were breaking down in the final third of the pitch and the home side struggled to get a glimpse of goal.

Yves Ma-Kalambay fumbled a Kevin Thomson free-kick but Carlos Cuellar could not take advantage, shooting straight against the prone Hibs goalkeeper.

Cousin then fizzed in a powerful shot which Ma-Kalambay pushed away awkwardly and the keeper used his large frame to keep out an angled strike from the Rangers forward soon after.

Steven Naismith celebrates finding the back of the net after 11 minutes
Naismith opened the scoring at Easter Road

Rangers threatened again on 40 minutes, with skipper Barry Ferguson dancing past several weak challenges to bear down on Ma-Kalambay, only for the keeper to snuff out the danger.

Hibs threw on Beuzelin and Alan O'Brien for the start of the second half and the Irish winger flashed in a cross that bounced up off the arm of Cuellar before a low drive from Shiels was gathered by Allan McGregor.

The Rangers keeper then caught a flick header from the same player.

However, it was the visitors who doubled their lead just short of the hour when Jones and Chris Hogg both failed to close down Cousin and the Frenchman rattled in a powerful shot from 20 yards.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

David Weir tried his luck with a strike from similar distance but Ma-Kalambay was able to beat it away.

Hibs were thrown a late lifeline when a loose ball fell to Zemmama on the edge of the penalty area and the Moroccan substitute expertly arrowed the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

The final score only served to flatter the Edinburgh side, who have seen their season unravel at an alarming rate after briefly topping the table after their 6 October win at Ibrox.


Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, Gathuessi, Hogg, Jones, Stevenson, Morais (O'Brien 46), Noubissie (Beuzelin 46), Kerr, Chisholm, Shiels, Donaldson (Zemmama 64). Subs Not Used: Grof, McCormack, Antoine-Curier, Lynch.

Booked: Gathuessi.

Goal: Zemmama 88.

Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Cuellar, Whittaker, Burke, Ferguson, Hemdani, Thomson, Cousin (Darcheville 76), Naismith. Subs Not Used: Carroll, Ehiogu, Broadfoot, Boyd, Furman, Efrem.

Booked: Burke.

Goals: Naismith 12, Cousin 59.

Att: 16,217

Ref: C Richmond

SEE ALSO
Smith happy with Easter Road win
29 Dec 07 |  Rangers
Craig laments poor run from Hibs
29 Dec 07 |  Hibernian


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