Anger at Ibrox as Rangers suffer cup humiliation

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The Independent Online

Barry Ferguson insists his Rangers team can still catch Celtic and win the Scottish championship this season. Rangers saw by far their most realistic hope of a trophy vanish yesterday when they were sent crashing out of the Tennent's Scottish Cup by Hibernian.

The 3-0 defeat led to angry scenes after the game when around 200 supporters gathered outside Ibrox to voice their unhappiness at the performance of their team. As well as watching another prize slip from their grasp, fans fear Rangers are back to square one after a run of 10 unbeaten games which had suggested they were putting one of their worst ever spells behind them. That winless streak in the first half of the season saw the champions plummet down the Bank of Scotland Premier League - and they remain 15 points behind Old Firm rivals Celtic.

But following exits from both cup competitions, captain Ferguson reasons Rangers simply have to force their way back into contention in the SPL - starting with Wednesday's match at Aberdeen. "It's simple," he said. "We still have a championship to try to win and we've got to try to catch Hearts and Celtic. "The fans are hurting, and so are we. "Everybody is hurting ... well, I hope everybody is hurting - so we have to go out on Wednesday and get three points.

"Every game now is vital for us. Every game is going to be like a cup final for us now - and we have to try to win every one between now and the end of the season. "We are a long way behind in the league - but we can still catch Celtic and Hearts." Celtic's shock exit to Bell's First Division outfit Clyde in the last round meant Rangers were among the favourites for the Scottish Cup as they headed into their tie against Hibs.

But goals from Garry O'Connor, Ivan Sproule and Chris Killen ensured the progression of the Easter Road club instead - and means the smart money is now on Hibs, or Hearts, to clinch the trophy. Ferguson admits it could have been a different story had Rangers been more clinical in front of goal early on. "The defeat is a hard one to take," he said. "Of course, we are disappointed. We are out the cup, and it was a cup we wanted to win. "In the first half, maybe we should have had the game tied up. But in the end, Hibs deserved to win.

"We dominated the first 30 minutes and if we had taken a chance we would have been confident enough to go on and win the game. But we didn't." It is the second time this season Hibs have defeated Rangers 3-0 at Ibrox, and manager Alex McLeish said: "I'm concerned but I have to look forward." Tony Mowbray claims he knew Hibs would go on to win the tie when the game was still deadlocked at the break. He said: "It's about staying in the game when you come to Ibrox, so 0-0 was a fantastic result for us at half-time. "When we left the dressing room at half-time we believed we were going to win the game because of our youth, our energy and our drive."

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