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Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

Rangers 1-0 Hibernian

By Thomas McGuigan

Kris Boyd celebrates his goal against Hibs
Boyd found the target after incessant Rangers pressure on the Hibs defence

Rangers narrowed the gap on league leaders Celtic to a single point with a well-deserved victory over Hibernian.

Kris Boyd, Pedro Mendes and captain Barry Ferguson all wasted chances to give the hosts a commanding lead.

Boyd made the breakthrough after 61 minutes with a clever hook shot from Kyle Lafferty's cross, before Mendes hit the bar with an audacious chip.

Hibs, who only came to life after falling behind, went close through Alan O'Brien and Steven Fletcher's header.

Rangers could have been in front as early as the sixth minute when Mendes threaded a superb ball through to Boyd, but his shot was dealt with comfortably by Yves Ma-Kalambay.

Kirk Broadfoot and Mendes both went close to breaking the deadlock in a sustained period of Rangers pressure in the opening 15 minutes.

The Edinburgh side struggled for long spells to string more than a couple of passes together and were often camped in their own half.

Rangers striker Kenny Miller blazed over in the 24th minute after Lafferty had sent in a dangerous cross from the left.

In a rare foray forward for Hibs, Colin Nish had a clear run in on goal just before half-time.

But the big striker showed little faith in his pace and, from just over the half-way line, he inexplicably sent a shot towards Allan McGregor's goal that dribbled wide.

Ferguson screwed wide from the edge of the area five minutes into the second-half as Rangers resumed their onslaught on Hibs' goal.

The Edinburgh side's inability to keep possession continued to plague them after the break and the ineffective Nish was withdrawn for Steve Pinau.

Rangers made the breakthrough with just under half an hour remaining when Boyd hooked the ball into the far corner of the net from Lafferty's centre.


The home side upped the tempo after Boyd's clinical effort and looked to add to their lead.

Steven Whittaker wasted a number of good chances from promising positions on the right to send in crosses to Boyd and Miller.

Hibs could have grabbed an equaliser when Fletcher headed straight at McGregor after O'Brien sent in a superb cross.

With 10 minutes remaining, Mendes sent a magical 45-yard chip towards goal that came back off the crossbar.

O'Brien then sent a shot wide from inside the box in Hibs' best chance for what would have proved an undeserved equaliser as Rangers secured maximum points.

Rangers manager Walter Smith:

"Credit to Hibs, they set their stall out to defend and they did that well. So, we were always going to have to show patience. In the end we're delighted with the result.

"It was a difficult afternoon to break Hibs down as their players worked very hard to cut down our opportunities.

"Kris Boyd had a fantastic finish for us. A terrific goal for him and that's what he does for us.

"Barry Ferguson played well for us today, as he did last week. It was obvious that after being out for six months he wasn't going to come back and be the same player immediately.

"It wasn't easy for our midfield players today and they had to work hard."

Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen:

"We defended fantastically well today. We weren't aggressive enough defending the corner-kick that led to Boyd's goal.

"But, all in all, I have no complaints. We limited Rangers' goalscoring opportunities. They had a lot of the ball but didn't really hurt us.

"I was waiting on us getting one chance and putting it away to put Rangers under pressure. But we couldn't do that.

"In the last 20 minutes we changed our shape and we were a bit more offensive. I'm disappointed we lost the game today. We came here to win, but we didn't do enough in the first hour to merit victory."

Rangers: McGregor, Whittaker, Broadfoot, Weir, Papac, Davis, Mendes, Ferguson, Lafferty, Boyd, Miller.
Subs: Alexander, Novo, McCulloch, Beasley, Dailly, Niguez, Fleck.

Goal: Boyd, 61

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Murray, Rankin, Thicot, Bamba, O'Brien, Nish, Fletcher.
Subs: McNeil, Yantorno, Keenan, Stevenson, Chisholm, Pinau, Campbell.

Referee: S Conroy

Att: 49,538

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Kris Boyd 7.81 (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.

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see also
SPL photo gallery
20 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL as it happened
20 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier

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