Football: Peerless McCoist

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The Independent Online
Rangers 4

Ferguson 34, McCoist71,74, Laudrup 83

Hibernian 3

Wright 21, Jackson 41, McGinlay 86

Attendance: 48,053

Not for the first time this year - make that the last dozen years - there was one man who was able to turn a thoroughly pedestrian performance by the champions into an important victory, that will keep one side of Glasgow blue for yet another Yuletide. The debt the Ibrox faithful owe Ally McCoist is surely immeasurable, but yesterday the crowd was able to show their affection when they roared their approval as the striker passed yet another milestone in his record-breaking career.

As early as the fifth minute, the Rangers enigma showed why he had started the match just one goal away from equalling Gordon Wallace's post-war Scottish League scoring record when he turned his marker sweetly, but was unfortunate to clip the post with his shot.

However, the visitors were not put off by the champions' bright start and had the best of the opening exchanges. They were rewarded in the 20th minute when their striker Keith Wright stunned the home side with a fine goal. The midfielder Kevin Harper picked out Darren Jackson with a fine through-ball, he rounded Andy Goram before squaring to Wright who tapped home from four yards.

Rangers thought they had equalised on 26 minutes when David Robertson crashed a Brian Laudrup pass beyond Jim Leighton, but a late flag for offside halted the celebrations. However, they did manage to level the score after 34 minutes with a low Ian Ferguson shot that came off the post on its way in.

Hibs regained the initiative in the latter stages of the first half and were duly rewarded in the 40th minute when a Willie Miller cross picked out Jackson who nodded in from close range.

David Robertson brought out a fine fingertip save from Jim Leighton in injury time when he let loose from 25 yards, but Hibs deservedly went into the break in the black.

Whatever Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, said in the dressing-room seemed to do the trick. Rangers seemed more purposeful and it was inevitable that McCoist should be the man to help them regain parity.

He equalled the scoring record of 264 goals when he nodded home in the 70th minute, and three minutes later the record was in McCoist's sole possession. In time-honoured fashion, he arrived at just the right moment to turn home a cross after some good work from Gascoigne. McCoist's goal was his 243rd for Rangers the other 22 came during his time with St Johnstone.

Rangers notched a fourth after 82 minutes when Brian Laudrup flicked the ball beyond Leighton from six yards. But Hibernian were not finished and Pat McGinlay responded four minutes from time.