Wednesday 16 October 2019

Rangers denied win at Easter Road as Hibs save point on controversial night

Hibernian 1 Rangers 1

Steven Gerrard. Pic: PA
Steven Gerrard. Pic: PA

Andy Newport

Florian Kamberi snatched an unlikely point as Hibernian held Rangers to a 1-1 Ladbrokes Premiership draw but only after Scottish football suffered another night of controversy at Easter Road.

Steven Gerrard's team should have been out of sight by half-time but only had Daniel Candeias' strike to show for their dominance in the first 45 minutes.

Kamberi pounced with quarter-of-an-hour left to steal a point for Paul Heckingbottom's side - who ended the match with 10 men after Darren McGregor was dismissed in stoppage-time.

But the result was overshadowed by yet another example of fan misconduct in Leith.

Just six days on from Scott Sinclair avoiding serious injury after a glass bottle was hurled at the Celtic winger, there was another disgraceful episode as a fan leapt from the home end to confront Gers skipper James Tavernier on the stroke of half-time.

Thankfully was no harm done to the Englishman but the incident will prompt yet another round of debate on the behaviour of supporters after a season that has already witnessed a worrying rise in missile throwing.

Gerrard will also launch a review on how his side failed to claim a victory having left the door open for Celtic to take a 10-point lead at the top when they face Aberdeen on Saturday.

His team had been in scintillating form before being forced to rescue a William Hill Scottish Cup replay at Aberdeen on Sunday but the opening 45 minutes here saw a return to their slick best.

Hibs had no idea how to contain their guests and will thank their lucky stars they only went in one down at the break.

They were fortunate too that they were not reduced to 10 men early on as Darren McGregor caught Alfredo Morelos with a straight arm as they tussled on half-way but referee Steven McLean decided only a yellow was required.

Rangers should have struck 12 minutes in as Ryan Kent danced past David Gray. His pull back was perfect for Scott Arfield but Mark Milligan threw himself in front to deny a certain goal.

It was one-way traffic. Morelos - who had signed a new three-and-a-half year deal earlier in the day - Andy Halliday and Ryan Kent all had efforts on goal but there was no opener.

Confusion amongst the officials should have given Hibs their chance to pounce two minutes before the break as linesman Graham Chambers put his flag up for offside against Daryl Horgan before putting it down again. The visitors' defence stopped but Hibs could not take advantage.

Instead it was Rangers who broke with lightning speed to grab the opener.

Glen Kamara charged forward before spraying out to Candeias. Paul Hanlon stopped the Portuguese winger's first cross but it broke back to the former Benfica man, who took a touch before whipping an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

That was not the end of the drama though. As McLean blew for the interval, a Hibs fan leapt from the East Stand to confront Tavernier, booting the ball out of the Ibrox skipper's hands.

The pair squared up but the pitch invader was quickly dragged away by police before it turned really ugly.

Gers looked to double their tally as the second period got underway but it was the hosts who almost hit back as Marc McNulty played in Horgan, only for Alan McGregor to block.

Rangers' failure to make more of their dominance came back to haunt them as Kamberi levelled with 14 minutes left.

Kamara switched off as the Swiss hitman ghosted clear to slam home at the back post as McNulty beat the offside trap to cross.

Having been outplayed for most of the night, the hosts almost claimed an incredible win as Stevie Mallan pounced on Allan McGregor's spill but Joe Worrall's block saved Gerrard's team.

Darren McGregor walked in stoppage time for a last-man foul on Jermain Defoe, while Halliday clipped the crossbar with the last kick of the ball as Rangers were left frustrated.

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