Europe has been the only silver lining in Rangers' barren season and yesterday they finally started to address the scramble for next season's qualification by overcoming their Hibernian hoodoo.
Goals by Kris Boyd and Barry Ferguson provided partial revenge for the Scottish Cup defeat at Ibrox a fortnight earlier, but elation was tempered by the fact that it was the fourth time of asking after three wins for the Edinburgh side this season.
The victory supplied a boost before the Champions' League meeting with Villarreal at home on Wednesday and allowed Rangers to edge ahead of Hibernian in what is a crowded race for the Uefa Cup place.
Hibernian's impressive season has been due to the shrewd tactical mind of their manager, Tony Mowbray, and the athleticism and talent of his young side. The first half followed the pattern of Hibernian's two previous visits, in that the visitors soaked up pressure while Rangers spurned chances. Boyd was particularly culpable, notably from fine deliveries from Chris Burke and Alan Hutton. The best chance, though, fell to Hibernian's Stephen Glass whose volley was too tame after David Murphy's cross picked him out.
Gary Caldwell, Hibernian's central defender, was unfortunate not to break the deadlock after 34 minutes when his header from Kevin Thomson's corner was cleared off the line by Burke. Six minutes later, the tiny Rangers winger's offensive attributes came to the fore as the hosts went ahead. Burke's pace left Murphy in his wake before he advanced into the box and provided a cutback that was stabbed in by Boyd.
Drawing on the surge in morale provided by Boyd's goal, Rangers dominated the second period. Dado Prso could have doubled their lead in the 46th minute with a raking shot that hit the outside of the post and then Steven Smith embarked on a searing 40-yard run on the hour but the teenager's shot curled narrowly wide of the target.
Then Boyd was denied another goal by the excellent Simon Brown, after the striker muscled out Caldwell. The Hibernian goalkeeper clawed Boyd's shot away before Murphy came to the rescue. However, Rangers would not be denied. They closed out the contest after 74 minutes when Brahim Hemdani's cross was only cleared to the feet of Ferguson, whose volley flew through a ruck of bodies past Brown.Reuse content