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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz