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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 14:22 UK

Hibernian 0-0 Rangers

By Colin Moffat

Hibs full-back Kevin McCann clears from Nacho Novo
Defences were on top in a game of few chances

Rangers edged to within seven points of SPL leaders Celtic after a tense goalless draw at Easter Road.

Rangers defender Carlos Cuellar had a header saved by Andrew McNeil in a low key first half.

Hibs came closest with a fierce shot from Filipe Morais which was pushed away by Neil Alexander.

Rangers, who have three games in hand on Celtic, almost snatched a late winner when Cuellar sent a header just inches over the crossbar.

This was the first of eight games Walter Smith's men face in a 21-day period and they looked tired after Thursday's Uefa Cup semi-final triumph.

Hibs moved level on points with Dundee United in fourth spot but they adopted a strangely cagey strategy given games are running out in the quest for third place.

The match opened up after the interval but there were very few goalmouth incidents to excite the crowd.

Dean Shiels began the game in a lively fashion and there was an early let-off for Rangers when the Hibs midfielder was erroneously flagged offside as he burst into the penalty area.

The home team were seeing a lot of the ball but failed to exert any telling pressure on the visiting defence, with the final pass letting them down all too often.

Nacho Novo was involved in a rare Rangers attack but full-back Kevin McCann made a neat interception just as the Spanish forward shaped to shoot from a tight angle.

On 37 minutes, Cuellar rose to meet a Steven Davis cross and his firm downward header was expertly tipped round the post by McNeil.

A smart passing move from Hibs gave Shiels time to arrow in a delivery from the left and Alexander's unconvincing punch saw the ball cannon off forward Ross Campbell and loop over the crossbar.

Rangers striker Daniel Cousin was given a glimpse of goal early in the second half but his powerful strike from distance was just too high to trouble McNeil.

Cousin had the ball in the net soon after but the Gabon international had strayed offside before nodding in from close range.

McNeil then made a block at his near post from a Barry Ferguson strike as the tempo picked up.


Hibs were struggling to find any chinks in the well-organised Rangers defence but Alexander had to make a good one-handed save to keep out a rising drive from Morais.

Both sides made changes in personnel in a bid to make the breakthrough only for defences to remain on top.

Cuellar sent a late header over the crossbar with McNeil floundering in no-man's land but there was to be no change in the stalemate.

Hibernian: McNeil, McCann, Canning, Jones, Murray, Morais (O'Brien 84), Shiels, Chisholm, Rankin, Fletcher, Campbell (Donaldson 75). Subs Not Used: Ma-Kalambay, Kerr, Benjelloun, Zarabi, Stevenson.

Booked: Rankin, McCann.

Rangers: Alexander, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac (Boyd 77), Davis, Dailly, Ferguson, Thomson, Novo, Cousin (Darcheville 86). Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Shinnie, Lennon, Emslie, Loy.

Booked: Cuellar, Dailly, Thomson.

Att: 16,872

Ref: C Murray

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Nacho Novo 7.13 (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
Hibs boss satisfied with display
04 May 08 |  Hibernian
Smith says fatigue not an issue
04 May 08 |  Rangers
Sunday's SPL photos
04 May 08 |  Scottish Premier

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