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Rangers title challenge in good Nic

Hibernian 0 Rangers 2: Nikica Jelavic marked his first start in almost four months with a goal as Rangers steered their Clydesdale Bank Premier League title charge back on track with a win over Hibernian.

The striker, back after ankle surgery, has been tipped to fill the void left by Kenny Miller's departure and he rose to the challenge at Easter Road, after Madjid Bougherra set the ball rolling with the opener.

The victory saw Rangers bounce back from defeat to Hearts at the weekend, while Hibs remain in the relegation zone after failing to repeat their impressive win over the Scottish champions at Ibrox the last time the two clubs locked horns.

As well as Jelavic, Vladimir Weiss was also drafted into the side while Maurice Edu and Northern Ireland star Kyle Lafferty were dropped to the Rangers bench.

The game was less than a minute old when Weiss embarked on a surging run from deep in his own half into the opposition box before delivering across the face of goal where Steven Naismith just failed to connect at the back post.

Rangers had looked the team most likely to find the back of the net and they opened the scoring with 26 minutes gone.

Weiss dusted himself off after winning a free-kick and lofted into the packed box where a headed clearance fell kindly for Bougherra to send an angled volley into the bottom corner.

The visitors could have doubled their advantage when Weiss whipped a tempting cross from the right into the path of Jelavic but he was just too slow to connect with the goal at his mercy.

However, the Croatian hitman was on the scoresheet after 35 minutes when he pounced on a poor back-pass from Towell before coolly rounding Graeme Smith and slotting into the empty net from six yards.

Jelavic was withdrawn for Lafferty on 72 minutes, seconds after picking up a booking for clashing with Paul Hanlon.

Rangers could have ended any hopes of a comeback when Naismith tried to pick out Lafferty but Smith intercepted.

The big striker then turned provider with a cut-back for fellow Ulsterman Steven Davis who saw his point-blank shot denied by a great save from Smith.

Belfast Telegraph


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