Lovenkrands lifts McLeish's mood

Hibernian 0 Rangers 2
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Alex McLeish's love affair with the Scottish Cup continues, but for his old club the torment goes on. The Rangers manager has not lost a single tie in the competition since his move to Ibrox two years ago, and he must have felt relief at the way the holders negotiated past a potentially hazardous third-round assignment at Easter Road.

It is over a century since the Edinburgh club held the world's oldest trophy, and yesterday saw that statistic adjusted to 102 years. Not that McLeish would have spared much sympathy. He has his own problems with the evaporation of Rangers' title defence last weekend at Celtic, but goals from Shota Arveladze and Peter Lovenkrands either side of half-time ensured the Old Firm derby hangover was lifted.

Hibernian - who had taken the scalp of Celtic in the CIS Insurance Cup on this pitch just before Christmas - were expected to provide a more searching examination, but Bobby Williamson's young side never delivered. They lost Grant Brebner early on with a dislocated shoulder and broken arm after the Hibernian captain was sandwiched between Arveladze and Mikel Arteta, and Brebner's influence was greatly missed in a team with four teenagers.

Rangers looked bereft of confidence in the early stages, and Hibernian closed them down so much they frequently gave away possession. Derek Riordan brought a save out of Stefan Klos after a sublime piece of skill on the touchline saw him elude Fernando Ricksen, but there was little to get excited about until Arveladze broke the deadlock in the 35th minute.

Lovenkrands created the opening, crossing to the back post where Hamed Namouchi beat Steven Whittaker in the jump and headed back across the six-yard box. Arveladze - who looked offside - steered his header past goalkeeper Daniel Andersson.

The hail of jeering that greeted the half-time whistle indicated the home support's wrath with that vital decision. That mood darkened just four minutes into the second half, when Lovenkrands doubled Rangers' advantage.

Michael Mols, who had just come on to replace Nuno Capucho, won the ball in his own half and threaded a superb pass down the left for Lovenkrands to exploit with his pace. The Denmark winger advanced, drew Andersson and then beat the keeper with a left-foot finish from a tight angle.

Rangers were now in cruise control. There was no Hibernian fightback, despite the surfeit of possession. The only time Klos was required to get his gloves dirty was when Steven Dobbie thrashed a 25- yard volley after Garry O'Connor had knocked the ball into his path.

"Hibernian showed a lot of spirited running, but the difference was quality," said McLeish. "They showed everyone what Rangers players need to deliver to protect their reputation."

Williamson, in contrast, is still seeking his first win over Rangers as Hibernian manager. He will hope to break that sequence next month in the semi-finals of the CIS Cup.

Hibernian 0 Rangers 2
Arveladze 35, Lovenkrands 49

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 11,392