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Rangers 2-1 Hibernian

By Colin Moffat

Rangers celebrate Jean-Claude Darcheville's goal at Ibrox
Rangers had to work hard for the three points

SPL leaders Rangers overcame Hibs at Ibrox thanks to goals from Jean-Claude Darcheville and Nacho Novo.

After a sluggish start, Darcheville smashed an impressive shot high into the far corner of the net from an acute angle on 40 minutes.

Substitute Nacho Novo later capitalised on a Chris Hogg mistake to drill in a sharp finish from 14 yards.

Hibs lacked a cutting edge in attack until Dean Shiels found the net after his initial effort had hit the bar.

Rangers are now six points clear of Celtic, who play Gretna on Sunday.

Home manager Walter Smith made five changes from the Scottish Cup draw against Partick Thistle, with Barry Ferguson, David Weir, Sasa Papac, Lee McCulloch and Darcheville returning.

Hibs made two changes following last week's win over Kilmarnock. Out went Paul Hanlon and Merouane Zemmama to be replaced by the more robust duo of Ian Murray and Abdel Zarabi.

The cagey early stages saw both sides strive to keep possession, with Hibs enjoying more success with some neat interplay and crisp passing.

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However, it was some slack play from Rangers which presented the visitors with their first sight of goal.

An errant delivery found its way to Filipe Morias, who lifted a neat pass towards Colin Nish, but the big striker misjudged the bounce of the ball as he bore down on keeper Allan McGregor and a great chance was gone.

Rangers' first meaningful effort on goal came on 18 minutes when Papac thundered a long range shot narrowly wide of the target.

Hibs striker Steven Fletcher dragged a shot wide from 20 yards as as both goalkeepers looked on without getting their gloves dirty.

Smith's side had been out-of-sorts but took the lead five minutes before the interval thanks to the sharpness of Darcheville and sloppy defending from Hibs.

Full-back Martin Canning was caught napping when Papac threaded a simple pass through to his team-mate and the striker cut in from the left flank before slamming a shot beyond Yves Makalambay from a tight angle.

Early in the second half, Darcheville broke clear of the Hibs defence but Makalambay used his large frame to block the Frenchman's shot from 18 yards.

The striker again raced into a dangerous position but was thwarted by the keeper, who was quick to leave his area and kick clear.

Hibs continued to knock the ball around confidently but lacked any punch up front and the home side increased their lead with 11 minutes remaining.

Hogg made a mess of dealing with a long ball from Kirk Broadfoot and Novo was hand to spin on the defender's weak header and shoot low past Makalambay.

Shiels added some trickery for the visitors and McGregor had to make a good save to tip away his shot.

The substitute grabbed a late consolation for Hibs when he latched on to a pass from Nish and followed up his clever chip which hit the crossbar to drill the ball home.


Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Dailly, Thomson, Davis, Ferguson, McCulloch (Whittaker 81), Darcheville (Novo 67). Subs Not Used: Alexander, Boyd, Naismith, Emslie, Furman.

Goals: Darcheville 40, Novo 79.

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, Canning, Hogg, Jones, Zarabi, Morais (Shiels 58), Chisholm (Zemmama 58), Rankin, Murray, Nish, Fletcher (Benjelloun 75). Subs Not Used: McNeil, McCann, O'Brien, Stevenson.

Booked: Fletcher, Zarabi, Jones.

Goal: Shiels 90.

Att: 50,117

Ref: S Conroy

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Jean-Claude Darcheville 7.49 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
SPL photo gallery
22 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Smith content to keep on winning
22 Mar 08 |  Rangers
Hibs boss wants better work-rate
22 Mar 08 |  Hibernian


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