RANGERS suffered their first defeat of the Premiership campaign this afternoon as Hibernian won 3-2 at Ibrox.
Alfredo Morelos put Pedro Caixinha’s side ahead after just three minutes but Simon Murray levelled for the visitors before a red card for Ryan Jack turned the game.
And it was Neil Lennon who was celebrating come full-time as Hibs made it two from two in the top flight following their victory over Partick Thistle last weekend.
Caixinha made two changes from the side that beat Dunfermline 6-0 in midweek as Wes Foderingham returned in goal and Jack replaced Jordan Rossiter in the middle of the park.
It meant a first league start for striker Morelos after his double against the Pars and the Colombian picked up where he left off. Daniel Candeias whipped in a free-kick from the right flank and Morelos timed his run perfectly to convert at the back post.
It was the perfect start for Caixinha’s side and it almost got better just seconds later as keeper Ofir Marciano directed a clearance straight at Kenny Miller. The striker reacted quickly but the ball was just the wrong side of the target for the Gers.
The Ibrox clash was off to a flying start and the first flashpoint on the far touchline saw James Tavernier and Anthony Stokes booked.
Rangers could have doubled their advantage when Jack connected with a Candeias free-kick before Miller’s shot was deflected onto the post after Josh Windass easily beat Steven Whittaker on his Ibrox return.
Within seconds, Hibs were level. Simon Murray picked the ball up and drove into the Gers area before beating Foderingham to silence the home crowd.
As the Hibs fans went wild, boss Lennon turned to the Main Stand and roared in celebration with his arms outstretched before cupping his ears. The fans behind the dugout were incensed at Lennon’s reaction as he milked the moment after his side drew themselves level.
It almost got even better for the visitors before the half hour mark but Stokes’ low shot was narrowly wide of Foderingham’s right hand post.
Hibs had grown into the match after a slow start and the game was soon turned on its head as Jack was shown a red. Graham Dorrans reacted angrily to a challenge from Vykintas Slivka and a melee erupted in the middle of the park.
Once John Beaton had restored calm, he infuriated the Gers support by flashing the red to Jack, while Dorrans and Dylan McGeough picked up a yellow.
It put Caixinha’s side on the back foot and they were soon behind as Slivka’s shot deflected off Tavernier and into the net. Lennon’s celebrations were more muted on this occasion.
Beaton left the field to a chorus of boos from a furious Ibrox and the break was a chance for Rangers to regroup ahead of a huge 45 minutes.
Danny Wilson replaced Lee Hodson as the Gers switched to a back three, with Eduardo Herrera joining Morelos in attack as Candeias was also removed from the action.
Rangers were keen to start brightly once again but it was Hibs who had the two best chances of the opening exchanges as Murray fired wide from distance and then came close with a header from John McGinn’s cross.
The fourth goal of the afternoon soon arrived and it was Hibs who got it as Slivka rifled home a terrific effort from 25 yards that left Foderingham with no chance.
That looked like it would be that for Rangers but they kept pushing for a way back into the game as Hibs continued to pose a threat of their own.
With ten minutes remaining, Tavernier rose well at the back post and directed a looping header beyond Marciano to give Caixinha’s side hope.
Bruno Alves curled a free-kick just over the bar but the clock was very much against Rangers as they stared defeat in the face.
And the final blow of Beaton’s whistle ended their chances of a fightback as Hibs ensured they would take the points back to Easter Road.