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Don't sanction me for responding to abuse from Gers fans: Lennon

Hibernian 5 Rangers 5

By Andy Newport

Neil Lennon says he should escape punishment for his on-pitch celebration after seeing his side seal a 5-5 draw against Rangers and accused the visiting support of targeting him with sectarian abuse.

The Lurgan man darted onto the Leith pitch after seeing Jamie Maclaren level up an incredible affair in stoppage time.

Ordered off, he was ushered quickly down the tunnel by fourth official Bobby Madden before the final whistle blew.

The incident is likely to see Lennon - already sitting on a suspended two-match ban his bust-up with referee Kevin Clancy at Rugby Park back in February - land in fresh bother. But the Hibs boss insists his aeroplane-style celebration was merely his response to the taunts aimed at him from the away end.

"Well, they make it personal don't they?," he said. "You all hear it. They are singing sectarian songs at me. It's just a little bit of 'have some of that'.

"It was worth it. Trust me. Bobby was fine about it. I should not get a ban for that. I was just letting them know how pleased I was to get the equaliser.

"I enjoyed the moment. It was a big jumbo jet there."

The build-up to the last-day clash had been dominated by Lennon's threat to quit his job following Hibs' midweek defeat to Hearts.

But the former Celtic boss admitted he had "spat the dummy" after that derby defeat before reiterating his commitment to the Leith cause.

Speaking after seeing his side end the campaign in fourth spot, he said: "There has been speculation, but I caused the speculation. There's no issue with the board.

"I wanted to break into that bracket of Aberdeen and Rangers and we have come up short.

"Fourth is acceptable for some people, not for me."

Lennon's summary of the action as "absolutely bonkers" just about summed up as astonishing game.

Gers looked like they were set to be blown away as Florian Kamberi, Scott Allan and Jamie Maclaren put Hibs - for whom a six-goal success would have seen them leapfrog their opponents in the table - 3-0 up after a 22-minute blitz.

But the Light Blues mounted a stunning fightback with strikes from James Tavernier, Jordan Rossiter, Bruno Alves, Jason Holt and Josh Windass.

However, another Maclaren goal sent Gers' nerves jangling and, with Jimmy Nicholl's men down to 10 after seeing Holt sent-off late on, Hibs' on-loan Darmstadt frontman prodded home at the death to the delight of his manager.

Gers had to better Aberdeen's result at Celtic Park to claim second spot but it is the Dons who finish runners-up after a 1-0 win in Glasgow.

New Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard is expected to perform a clear out when he takes over next month - but caretaker boss Nicholl believes some of his men may have saved their Gers career with their fightback.

"All in all, all I can say is that it has been an eventful three games," said the Northern Ireland legend.

"They have shown a bit of character, a bit of ability as well, over the season and it depends on who is going to stay and who is not going to stay. The new manager will have seen something in some of the players today."

Hibernian: Marciano, Whittaker, Hanlon, McGinn, Slivka (McGregor, 70 mins), McGeouch, Stevenson (Swanson, 86 mins), Maclaren , Kamberi, S Allan (Barker, 65 mins), Ambrose. Unused subs: Dabrowski, Gray, Bartley, L Allan.

Rangers: Alnwick, Tavernier, Martin, Bates, Halliday, Rossiter (Hodson, 68 mins), Goss (Alves, 28 mins), Holt, Candeias, Cummings (Windass, 62 mins), Murphy. Unused subs: Kelly, Herrera, O'Halloran, Docherty.

Referee: Andrew Dallas

Man of the match: Jamie Maclaren

Match rating: 10/10

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