Boyd's beauty keeps Rangers on course

Rangers 1 Hibernian 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Kris Boyd's 18th goal of the season was ultimately what separated the sides at Ibrox yesterday but the gulf in possession and chances was as wide as the M8 is long. Rangers could not play expansively against miserly, well-organised visitors but had most of the possession and created virtually all the chances while managing to convert just the one.

Hibs had one shot on target all afternoon. That came in the 75th minute when Steven Fletcher met Alan O'Brien's cross with a downward header, held by Allan McGregor. They also had one shot off target, by Colin Nish, just before the break. Apart from that, zilch.

Rangers had 10 efforts atgoal –€ three from long range by Pedro Mendes alone – and Boyd's goal was the peach among them, a diagonal overhead kick in the 61st minute.

Rangers' victory takes them to within a point of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League until at least this afternoon, when Gordon Strachan's side play at Falkirk. Thus Rangers' long unbeaten home run in domestic competitions goes on.

Not since Hibs won 1-0 in October last year have they lost an SPL match on their own turf. Only one more game – next Saturday's Old Firm match – stands between Rangers and an entire calendar year without a domestic loss at Ibrox.

"It was a difficult 90 minutes but I expected that because Hibs have been playing very well, they're very solid and defended well,"€ said Walter Smith, the Rangers manager. "We were always going to have to show patience. In the end we're delighted with the result." Asked if Boyd was increasingly a player he could trust in the "big games"€, he said: "He's scoring goals all the time and hopefully that can continue."€

Boyd has long been an enigma, with his best displays and most of his goals typically against less testing opponents. But since the hissy fit in October when he said he would not play again for Scotland under George Burley, his all-round game has improved and he has become ever more prolific.

His goal was his 16th in the SPL this season, from 18 starts and from 21 appearances in all competitions. An Old Firm start surely beckons.