James Tavernier marks 400th Rangers appearance with goal in win over Hibernian

By Sports Desk May 21, 2023

Skipper James Tavernier celebrated his 400th competitive appearance for Rangers with the opening goal in a 3-1 cinch Premiership win over Hibernian at Easter Road.

The Gers right-back beat Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall with a 30-yard free-kick in the 33rd minute and Ianis Hagi doubled the visitors’ lead in the 55th minute with his first goal since January 2022, before his lengthy knee injury absence.

Todd Cantwell added a third in the 88th minute before Hibs defender Paul Hanlon reduced the deficit in added time.

The defeat leaves Lee Johnson’s side four points behind fourth-placed Hearts and six behind Aberdeen, with European places potentially available up to fifth place in the league as long as Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final

Hibs host Celtic on Wednesday before the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on the final day of the season.

Rangers, with second place guaranteed, finish the campaign with a home game against Hearts before travelling to St Mirren on the last day of the season.

Michael Beale already had a lengthy injury list when he confirmed before the game that defender Connor Goldson was ruled out for 10 weeks, the problem unspecified.

However, the Gers boss made only two changes to his starting line-up with Hagi in for Rabbi Matondo and 19-year-old centre-back Leon King replacing Goldson for his first start since November

Tavernier had the Hibs defence in trouble with a series of early corners in which defender John Souttar’s header came off the crossbar and King’s header blocked inadvertently by Gers midfielder Ryan Jack.

Hibs, unchanged from last week’s draw at Aberdeen, worked their way into the game but Rangers remained the more dangerous, a neat move ending with striker Fashion Sakala forcing a save from Marshall with a low drive.

The home side began to cope better with the Ibrox threat and in the 23rd minute striker Kevin Nisbet came close with a header from an Elie Youan cross, after the Hibs wideman had got the better of Tavernier.

However, the Gers captain made a more marked impression on the game after Cantwell was fouled wide on the left by CJ Egan-Riley.

With most expecting a cross into the middle, Tavernier curled the ball in at the near post with Hibs captain Marshall slow to get across and unable to keep the ball out the net.

The Easter Road side took some time to recover but might have levelled in the 41st minute when Nisbet’s wonderful curling pass found Josh Campbell at the back post but the midfielder could only hit the side-netting on the stretch.

Early in the second half, Gers keeper Robby McCrorie, who had looked unconvincing, was out of position when Nisbet’s close-range header floated just past the post, just before Scott Arfield replaced the injured Gers midfielder Nicolas Raskin.

Rangers’ second goal came from Tavernier’s long ball into the box which was headed down by Sakala and although Hagi’s first effort was blocked by Hanlon – it looked as though the ball hit the arm of the Hibs defender – the Romania international drove in at the second attempt.

Marshall saved another effort from Sakala and the other end, Nisbet headed substitute Ewan Henderson’s corner against the post – it was not going to Hibs’ day.

In the 79th minute Marshall tipped a John Lundstram drive over the bar before Cantwell prodded in from close range to seal the points after the Hibs keeper failed to deal with a Tavernier effort, with Hanlon netting a consolation goal for the hosts when he headed in a corner in the third of four added minutes.

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