Alive and free-kicking as Albertz hounds Hibernian

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The Independent Football

Jorg Albertz has just brought out a video of the ferocious free-kicks which have illuminated his three years at Ibrox, but the German will have to launch another compilation now to showcase the one he struck yesterday.

Jorg Albertz has just brought out a video of the ferocious free-kicks which have illuminated his three years at Ibrox, but the German will have to launch another compilation now to showcase the one he struck yesterday.

No doubt there will be plenty of space on "Now That's What I Call Free Kicks: 2" for future Albertz efforts, but for power and grace it would be hard to beat the 47th-minute gem which killed of a disappointing Hibernian side who could not cope with The Hammer and were spared only a true horror of their own by Nick Colgan's expert goalkeeping.

Even Rangers' vast resources were stretched when Stefan Klos hurt his hand in training on Friday which, with Lionel Charbonnier also injured and Antti Niemi on loan at Charlton, meant that the 18-year-old fourth choice Mark Brown was entrusted with the goalkeeper's jersey.

Yet this was misleading because in every position Rangers dwarfed Hibernian in terms of experience.

They protected Brown to such a degree that the goalkeeper never had to lay a glove on the ball for the opening quarter of an hour. A tidal wave of blue poured down on Brown's counterpart, Nick Colgan, and the Hibernian keeper was indebted to his full-back Derek Collins, who hooked Gabriel Amato's effort off the line.

Then Albertz squandered a good chance after Neil McCann finished off some trickery with a perfect lay off, before Claudio Reyna joined the storming of the barricade with a left-foot shot that was inches past the post. The only time Hibs could find an escape valve to relieve the pressure was a wonderful 40-yard run by Russel Latapy in the 18th minute, holding off Reyna before curling a right-foot shot just wide of the alarmed Brown's top corner.

McCann ought to have broken the deadlock five minutes later after a neat Rangers free-kick routine between Albertz and van Bronckhorst, which saw the German international thunder a left-foot drive through the wall. Colgan got down, but spilled the ball straight to McCann, who hit the rebound into the side netting.

However, McCann's true quality lies as a provider for others, as he demonstrated vividly in the 33rd minute when he allowed Jonatan Johansson to break the deadlock. It was a carbon copy of Wembley last Wednesday, with Albertz filling the role that Callum Davidson did for Scotland, feeding McCann who delivered a great cross for Johansson to follow Don Hutchison's example and power a header past Colgan.

The safe haven which half-time provided did not last long, though, as Albertz doubled Rangers' lead in the 47th minute in the most awesome fashion. Tom Smith, the Hibs left-back, foolishly brought down Amato on the edge of the box, allowing Albertz to conjure up a stunning free-kick. It was not just the bend on the ball, which took it round the wall and inside the far post, but it is the power which separates the German from ordinary mortals. From the moment Albertz stepped up, Colgan had no chance.

Five minutes later, Reyna set up Albertz to rain another missile down on Colgan, but this time the goalkeeper won the duel with a wonderful stop. By then, Rangers' supremacy was already established.

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