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Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 21:41 UK

Hibernian 1-1 Rangers

By Andy Campbell

Hibernian striker Derek Riordan
Riordan (far left) picks his spot to put Hibs in front

Rangers failed to reclaim top spot in the Scottish Premier League after fighting back to earn a draw in a pulsating encounter against Hibernian.

Derek Riordan scored the opening goal four minutes before half-time with a splendid curling strike.

Nacho Novo thought he had equalised but the officials judged that the ball had not crossed the line.

But the Spaniard did grab a leveller 10 minutes from the end and Hibs survived a late onslaught to claim a point.

The result takes Rangers level on points with leaders Celtic, who boast a superior goal difference by two.

After Rangers' Madjid Bougherra had been booked early on for a late lunge on Ian Murray, Chris Hogg's mistake allowed Pedro Mendes to put Kris Boyd through on goal but Hibs captain Rob Jones got back to make a vital saving tackle.

Mendes then sent a powerful low drive past Ma-Kalambay's near post after the Portuguese midfielder had worked his way in from the left.

Andrius Velicka, back in the Rangers first-team for the injured Kenny Miller, belted over from a promising position as the visitors struggled to make meaningful in-roads towards the Hibs goal.

And within minutes Riordan had put the hosts in front with a superb strike from 20 yards following a passage of intricate passing on the edge of the Rangers box.

The visitors reappeared for the second half minus Steven Smith and the ineffectual Velicka with Novo and Lafferty introduced to the fray.

Those substitutions gave Rangers fresh impetus in attack and Ma-Kalambay had to gather a looping header from Boyd.

Rangers striker Nacho Novo
Novo was a constant threat to the Hibs defence in the second half

Within minutes, an excellent run by Steven Whittaker created a chance for Novo but, at full stretch inside the six-yard box, the striker directed his shot wide when it looked easier to score.

The procession towards the Hibs goal continued and Lafferty curled wide at the back post before Steven Davis' deflected shot was punched away by Ma-Kalambay.

In between times, referee Eddie Smith had turned down faint appeals for a penalty after Steven Fletcher had been sandwiched by two Rangers defenders.

Hibs were looking dangerous on the counter attack and Riordan tested Alexander with a fizzing low drive from distance.

The most controversial moment of the match occurred when Ma-Kalambay spilled Boyd's shot from a corner and Novo stretched out a foot to try and force the ball into the net only for Ross Chisholm to hook clear.

But the Rangers players were convinced the ball had already gone over the line and Mendes and Lafferty were booked for dissent after they had surrounded referee Smith and his assistant Martin Cryans.


Uncertainty in the Rangers defence created another chance for Riordan but the forward could not get a hold of the shot, allowing Alexander to collect.

And Novo made Hibs pay for that miss when he slammed home on the rebound after Ma-Kalambay had saved Lafferty's shot from Christian Dailly's knock-down.

Novo could have edged Rangers in front, but he directed his back-post header straight into the arms of Ma-Kalambay.

Rangers continued to pin their hosts back in the closing stages but could not find the goal that would have taken them back to the league's summit.

Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen:
"I thought the spirit and determination of the boys not to concede a goal was fantastic. The boys were organised in defence.

"Everybody was on the front foot, tremendous effort.

"Rangers put loads of pressure on us but I felt that the boys were absolutely fantastic at defending every cross and everything they threw at us.

"It was a fantastic goal by Derek Riordan, no back-lift at all and he just placed it in the top locker. It certainly was a special one. He's an unbelievable finisher.

"We're not doing favours for anybody, we are just playing for ourselves, the supporters, the club and for the pride.

"The players are playing for their livelihoods and today was a fantastic spirited performance. It's just a pity we couldn't hold on."

Rangers manager Walter Smith:
"Although I felt in the first half of the game, we controlled maybe possession of the ball but never really created that many opportunities.

"I though we were terrific in the second half of the game. We created a whole lot of opportunities that, on another night, would have seen us win the game and obviously I'm a little bit disappointed that we only managed to get a draw, especially with the amount of effort we had in the second half.

"I felt the game might have opened up a little bit more than it did when we scored late on.

"Hibs defended well, especially in the first half. In the second half of the game, we can only say that we created a lot of opportunities and we missed them so, at the end of the day, we have to take a share of that responsibility."

On the disallowed goal:
"The players say it was a goal. The referee and linesman obviously say that it's not a goal so therefore it's not.

"Certainly from the dugout area, you couldn't tell whether the ball was over the line but the majority of players that were around there say that they felt that it was over the line.

"It's a disappointing one if it was in. Maybe even on television, it will be difficult to tell but, to be fair, it looks as though the full-back did scoop it over the line. We just have to get on with it."

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Murray, Chisholm, Bamba (Thicot 90), Rankin, Stevenson, Fletcher (O'Brien 86), Riordan.
Subs Not Used: McNeil, Keenan, Hanlon, McCormack, Johansson.

Booked: Bamba, Fletcher.

Goals: Riordan 41.

Rangers: Alexander, Dailly, Bougherra, Weir, Whittaker, Davis, Mendes, Edu, Steven Smith (Novo 46), Boyd, Velicka (Lafferty 46).
Subs Not Used: McGregor, McCulloch, Naismith, Fleck, Wilson.

Booked: Bougherra, Mendes, Lafferty.

Goals: Novo 80.

Att: 13,765

Ref: E Smith

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Hibernian's Derek Riordan 8.38 (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 as it happened
13 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
13 May 09 |  Scottish Premier

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