Amid the mayhem of a typically Scottish game in which subtle skills were sacrificed for unsubtle boots, thumps and crunching tackles, the calm figure of Louis van Gaal, the Ajax coach, took in what he saw with a growing sense of disbelief.
Van Gaal, whose side face Rangers in the Champions' League on Wednesday, commented: "It was a very exciting game, a struggle for life. It wasn't tactical and I felt Rangers were the better team even though they didn't win."
Van Gaal hinted at having worries over Rangers' strengths although he witnessed the loss after six minutes of Peter van Vossen with an ankle injury, threatening his availability on Wednesday.
Rangers took the lead two minutes after that, with a pile-driver free- kick from Jorg Albertz, their German midfielder. Walter Smith's men held sway throughout the first half and created several opportunities to increase their lead but the game turned around after half-time as Hibernian took the game to Rangers, setting about them with endeavour and skill.
The equaliser, however, can be attributed to a piece of good fortune in that the foul by Jonas Bjorklund on Darren Jackson appeared to be outside the penalty area but the referee awarded a penalty to the home side, which Jackson converted.
Four minutes later Graeme Donald arrived at the far post to shoot Hibernian into the lead and set about a dramatic finale.
Rangers were awarded a penalty with five minutes remaining but Brian Laudrup's shot struck the bar. The referee awarded a retake because of encroachment by a Hibernian player and this time Laudrup's kick was well saved by Jim Leighton.
There could have been more goals in this game but for saves by Scotland's top two goalkeepers, Leighton and Andy Goram. Rangers' dismay was complete on the realisation that a last-minute goal by Pierre van Hooijdonk had secured a victory for Celtic, thereby cutting Rangers' lead at the top to two points.Reuse content