Despite a brave performance from Hibs at Ibrox today, we suffered our first defeat of the season as Rangers won 2-1 in controversial circumstances.
We were in control of the game and leading 1-0 thanks to an early Kevin Nisbet header when the game turned on a straight red card given to Ryan Porteous.
Until then we were in control with Rangers struggling and frustrating having not registered a shot on our goal. The decision to send off Porteous appeared harsh and the home side took full advantage.
Substitute Kemar Roofe levelled on 55 minutes shortly after coming and Alfredo Morelos snatched the winner late on.
We made one change from the side that defeated St Johnstone at Easter Road last weekend with Jake Doyle-Hayes replacing Kyle Magennis.
Our hosts made six changes following their midweek Europa League match with Sparta Prague as goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Connor Goldson returned to their starting XI.
Paul Hanlon led us out with the boys looking good and wearing our new Sunshine on Leith third kit.
There was little between the sides in the opening moments as both teams felt their way into the contest.
The first opportunity of the game delivered the opening goal as we silenced the home support on eight minutes.
Chris Cadden gathered the ball wide right, and his deep hanging cross was met brilliantly by Nisbet who cushioned a wonderful header back across goal and into the net at the far post.
In the moments that followed we were on top with the home support turning against their side.
On 30 minutes we were almost clean through on goal when Nisbet almost found the run of Martin Boyle, however the pass was slightly overhit.
Everything appeared to be going well for us, that is until Porteous was shown a straight red card by referee Nick Walsh.
The decision was harsh on the young Hibs defender who appeared to have won the ball whilst challenging Joe Aribo.
Jack Ross reacted by withdrawing Scott Allan and replacing him with Darren McGregor to fill the void left by Porteous.
The red card immediately put us on the back foot as Rangers pressed to turn their numerical advantage into an equaliser.
From a free kick they worked the ball wide left and from Borna Barisic’s cross, Goldson cushioned it down to Leon Balogun who shot wide of the target.
The home side had another quick opportunity when Barisic’s free kick from the left found Morelos peeling off his marker and he headed over the crossbar from a good position.
With the interval looming, Rangers continued to crank up the pressure and a Nathan Patterson cross was fortuitously deflected inches wide of the far post by Paul McGinn.
We were holding on as we went into time added on and had to stand up to intense pressure as Rangers won a series of corner kicks.
Matt Macey had to make his first save of note to deny Patterson at his near post before the Rangers player was denied by a McGregor block seconds later.
Three minutes of additional time had been played when Scott Wright had the final opportunity of the first half with a shot on the turn that he blasted high and wide of goal.
As expected, Rangers came out all guns blazing in the second half and with efforts from Ianis Hagi and Patterson blocked in the opening minute before John Lundstram dragged a shot wide.
On 50 minutes we had a rare foray forward and a good opportunity when Boyle’s free kick found McGregor at the back post, however the defender was unable to guide his header towards the target.
Rangers were soon back on the attack and Nisbet did well to deflect a shot on the turn from Morelos off target before Goldson shot his and wide with a snapshot from the resultant corner kick.
Steven Gerrard withdrew Glenn Kamara and put on Roofe to add extra firepower and the changes worked immediately with the substitute heading his side level from Patterson’s cross.
With 18 minutes remaining Hagi did well to work a shooting opportunity on the edge of our box and only a wonderful save from Macey denied him.
We were looking tired now having battled so hard throughout and Ross looked to freshen up the midfield by replacing the impressive Doyle-Hayes with Alex Gogic.
The relentless pressure from Rangers paid off when Morelos headed in from close range on 78 minutes despite the efforts of Macey to put it onto the post.
With five minutes remaining Macey had to beat away a powerful strike from Hagi at his near post.
We pushed hard in the closing stages for an equaliser, throwing caution to the wind with Paul Hanlon staying forward without testing McGregor as Rangers saw out the match to reclaim top spot in the cinch Premiership and end our unbeaten run.
Rangers: McGregor, Patterson, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic, Kamara (Roofe 55’), Lundstram, Aribo (Bacuna 79’), Wright (Davis 80’), Hagi, Morelos. Substitutes not used: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Bassey, Sakala.
Hibernian: Macey, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Cadden (Murphy 82’), Doyle-Hayes (Gogic 76’), Newell, Doig, Allan (McGregor 33’), Boyle, Nisbet. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Stevenson, Scott, Wright.
Referee: Nick Walsh.