Rangers cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to two points on Friday with a commanding 3-0 win over 10-man Hibernian. Steven Gerrard’s side struck twice inside the first 10 minutes at Easter Road as Ryan Kent pounced on a goalkeeping error before Joe Aribo added a classy second goal. Rangers were without 27-goal leading scorer Alfredo Morelos due to suspension, but Jermain Defoe rounded off a dominant display early in the second half.
“We’ve come here today and put in a really strong away performance. Hibs couldn’t deal with our intensity and quality. We thoroughly deserved our win,” Gerrard told BT Sport. Hibs defender Ryan Porteous was shown a straight red card on the hour for a wild lunge on Borna Barisic, who was nearly struck by a glass bottle thrown from the stands as he lay injured. The challenge on the Croatia left-back sparked an angry touchline scuffle which resulted in Hibs assistant boss John Potter and Gers coach Tom Culshaw being sent to the stands. “We all understand that there are bad tackles. I’ve done a few myself. There is no problem with that but you can’t defend that,” said Gerrard.
“Obviously our emotions are running high but I think when it all cools down both benches maybe have to have a look at their behaviour.” Rangers’ recent record in Leith was anything but impressive with only three wins in their 10 previous visits. But they were gifted the opening goal when Ofir Marciano dawdled on the ball for too long and was closed down by Aribo, who charged down the clearance allowing Kent to steer into an empty net from the edge of the area.
Nigeria international Aribo then linked up brilliantly with Ryan Jack to put Rangers firmly in control, connecting first time with a return pass to pick out the far corner. Celtic had pulled five points clear with a 2-0 win at Hearts on Wednesday, but a third goal from Defoe on 53 minutes made certain Rangers kept pace with their Glasgow rivals. Scott Arfield’s header into the box found the former England striker, who deftly shifted past Jason Naismith with one touch before drilling beyond a stationary Marciano. Hibs were not only left reeling from a third defeat in four but facing pressure to explain how they plan to curb the repeated transgressions of some of their fans.