Jelavic wakes Rangers from their slumber

Hibernian 0 Rangers 2

Easter Road

The monotony had to be overcome first, and Nikica Jelavic (right) came to be a source of salvation. There was so little to separate the grinding application of the two sides, the rhythm of a game that lacked any form of invention, that his goals were the result of bloody-mindedness, of sheer perseverance.

This was a trial for Rangers, of their self-esteem as much as their conviction. The team have performed with little speed of thought or penetration in recent weeks, and have been dropping points with a grim helplessness. They still lead the Scottish Premier League, but confidence might have been fragile as this encounter became limited by its toil.

It took until the 43rd minute for a shot on target, but even then Leigh Griffiths, the Hibernian striker, scuffed his effort from close range, allowing Allan McGregor to save. Rangers, with Lee McCulloch, Kyle Bartley and Maurice Edu in central midfield had been forceful but lacking the kind of ingenuity to prise out any openings for Jelavic, who was playing on his own up front. "I felt sorry for him up there," admitted McCulloch.

The visitors made a greater effort to support the Croatian in the second half, but it still required a moment of rashness to enable a breakthrough. A hopeful ball deep into the penalty area caused Lee Wallace, the Rangers full-back, and Michael Hart, the Hibs defender, to grapple, with the former tumbling to the ground. "I thought it wasn't a penalty," Hart protested. Jelavic confidently tucked the spot-kick past Graham Stack, the Hibs goalkeeper.

The goal brought some composure to Rangers' play, but also caused the game to open out. In his first home game in charge of Hibs, Pat Fenlon sought to encourage and cajole his players, but their indecision at set-pieces infuriated him. Eight minutes after the penalty, Gregg Wylde slung over a corner kick that Jelavic converted at the back post. "I'm disappointed, but there were positives to take out of it," Fenlon said.

His side almost struck back, when Paul Hanlon's cross diverted off Steven Whittaker, demanding an agile save from McGregor. The afternoon, though, belonged to Jelavic, who is being tracked by Premier League sides. "It shows how important he is to the club," said the Rangers manager, Ally McCoist. "I'd rather my players were playing well and attracting attention than not." Asked if it will be his call if offers come in, he added: "Absolutely – I don't think there is any doubt about that."

Hibernian (4-2-3-1): Stack; Hart (Galbraith, 72), O'Hanlon, Stephens, Hanlon; Wotherspoon, Stevenson; Griffiths (Caldwell, 89), Osbourne, Sproule; O'Connor (Sodje, 89).

Rangers (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Whittaker, Goian, Bocanegra, Wallace; McCulloch, Bartley (Bendiksen, 56); Davis, Edu (Ortiz, 89), Wylde; Jelavic.

Referee: Iain Brines

Man of the match: Jelavic (Rangers)

Scottish Premier

Victor Wanyama's first goal for Celtic, midway through the second half against Hearts, gave second-placed Celtic a narrow 1-0 win, Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster's penalty save keeping the points intact, while Motherwell, third, won 3-0 at St Johnstone.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue