Rangers 3 Hibernian 0: Rangers dish out first-half lesson

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Barry Ferguson has been hurt more than anyone in the Rangers dressing room by his team's wretched Scottish Premier League campaign, but the Ibrox captain inspired them yesterday to a merited success that takes some heat off Paul Le Guen going into next week's Old Firm clash.

Ferguson's sublime third goal sealed a first-half demolition of Hibernian in which Dado Prso and Libor Sionko atoned for last Sunday's defeat at Falkirk. That result had left the Rangers manager accepting that Celtic were too far in front in the title race.

The champions will not be quite as charitable with the ball as John Collins' side were and Hibernian's misery was sealed when Ivan Sproule was sent off in the 66th minute for two foolish bookings for dissent.

Hibernian displayed all the hallmarks of the "pure football" that John Collins has preached since taking over from Tony Mowbray six weeks ago, but unfortuately that all backfired in the first half as Rangers raced to a 3-0 lead, largely as a result of the visitors conceding possession as they tried to pass their way out of trouble.

Dado Prso opened the scoring after 15 minutes, just seconds after the Croatian had seen a fine finish disallowed for offside. A quick free-kick by Libor Sionko found Nacho Novo who advanced into the box and supplied Prso with a pass that he swept past Zibi Malkowski.

Hibernian almost restored parity in the 20th minute when Sproule, who scored a hat-trick here last season, drew a fine save from Allan McGregor.

However, Rangers doubled their lead just after the half hour. Prso's low cross was missed by Novo but Charlie Adam regained the ball on the far side and flighted a low cross which was dummied by Novo for Sionko to hook in a shot from six yards.

In the 35th minute, Rangers struck again. A dreadful error by Hibernian right-back Steven Whittaker gave the ball away to Novo and his lob over the defence was cleverly headed over Malkowski by Ferguson.

The second period was a tamer affair. Collins brought on Michael Stewart, and he came close to scoring with a whipped free-kick.

However, Hibernian's task became impossible when they were reduced to 10 men in the 66th minute when Sproule was sent off for his second yellow card after contesting a throw-in decision.