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We have answered our critics, roars Warburton

Rangers 4-2 Hibernian

By Andy Newport

Published 29/12/2015

Double delight: Jason Holt wheels away after bagging his brace in Rangers' 4-2 triumph over title rivals Hibernian
Double delight: Jason Holt wheels away after bagging his brace in Rangers' 4-2 triumph over title rivals Hibernian

Mark Warburton claims his Rangers side gave the perfect response to their doubters with their 4-2 win over title rivals Hibernian.

The Ibrox men have won just three times since losing at Easter Road at the start of November but looked back to their best as they responded in style.

Warburton has been stung by the criticism his side have received in the wake of the wobble which allowed Alan Stubbs' men to draw level at the top of the Scottish Championship.

But they have now regained control of the promotion race after taking a three-point lead.

Jason Cummings fired his 15th goal of the season to put Hibs ahead but Jason Holt's brace put Gers in control at the break.

Nicky Clark fired a third while Dominique Malonga gave Hibs brief hope before Martyn Waghorn finished off the Leith men's 17-game unbeaten run with the fourth in stoppage time.

Warburton - whose side finished with 10 men after Andy Halliday was harshly sent-off - said: "I felt the first goal went against the run of play but it was a great response from the boys.

"There's been a few comments about our team, like we lack a spine. Well I think we answered all the questions, without a doubt."

Stubbs tried to heap pressure on Gers with a string of targeted comments in the build-up to the match but Warburton was pleased to see his team do their talking on the pitch.

"From our point of view we were quiet," he said. "The focus has to be on Rangers. We knew Hibs are a very strong opponent who had been on a good run, but I thought we delivered a very good performance.

"There was no extra motivation. When you've got 50,000 people here there is no need for motivation. We had a responsibility to perform. It's a mini-crisis when we draw a game, but sometimes the ball doesn't drop your way.

"The last two games we didn't deserve to drop points, but we more than answered those questions."

Cummings punished Rangers when a Liam Henderson shot broke his way after 23 minutes, but Gers refused to buckle and levelled after 34 minutes when Holt slotted past Mark Oxley.

The former Hearts man then grabbed his fifth goal in six games with a deflected strike two minutes before the break.

Clark finished off a tidy cross from Dean Shiels on the hour mark as Gers closed in on victory but the Light Blues were put on the back foot when Bobby Madden flashed red at Halliday.

He reacted angrily to a Fraser Fyvie trip but he was guilty of nothing more than a shoulder bump to the Hibs man's chest.

Fyvie, though, immediately clutched his face and Warburton confirmed Gers will appeal the dismissal. He said: "I've got to be careful with what I say. We'll go through the due process on it. Our decision is very clear."

Malonga scrambled home a header late on, but there was no comeback as Waghorn drove in from the right to beat Oxley again.

Stubbs was not prepared to accept his attempts at mind games had fired up his side's opponents.

"I can't speak about other teams," he said with a wry grin. "I'll speak about my own team.

"We will respond to this. We could have done better with at least two of the goals, but congratulations to Rangers. They won, but just as we said before the game, it's just another three points.

"Now we move on. It is not going to affect us. We've done fantastically - 17 games unbeaten. This was going to happen eventually but it is not going to affect us."

Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Danny Wilson, Wallace, Holt, Halliday, Law (Clark 62), Waghorn, Miller (Shiels 62), McKay (Ball 74).

Subs not used: Zelalem, Oduwa, Kelly, Thompson. Sent Off: Halliday (70).

Goals: Holt 33, 43, Clark 65, Waghorn 89.

Hibernian: Oxley, Gray (Fontaine 46), McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, McGeouch, Fyvie, McGinn (Boyle 71), Henderson, Keatings (Malonga 63),Cummings. Subs not used: Anier,Bartley,Feruz,Reguero.

Goals: Cummings 23,Hanlon 86.

Man of the match: Jason Holt

Match rating: 9/10

Referee: Bobby Madden

Belfast Telegraph

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