POST-WINTER break slumps in form have proved costly for Rangers in the Scottish title race in recent seasons.

The Ibrox club’s aspirations of being crowned champions have been dented by poor results in the immediate aftermath of the shutdown on more than one occasion in the past.

This difficult cinch Premiership game against Hibernian at Easter Road – rearranged after the Govan outfit made it through to the Viaplay Cup final last month – had the potential to end badly for the visitors.

They were missing Connor Goldson, who has been a constant in the heart of their rearguard during the 2023/24 campaign, in Leith due to a suspension.

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However, first-half goals from Ridvan Yilmaz and Todd Cantwell and a second-half Cyriel Dessers strike ensured Rangers prevailed comfortably, avoided another January slip-up and moved to within five points of their city rivals Celtic at the top of the table with a game in hand against Ross County to play.

Here are five talking points from the encounter.


Leon Balogun and John Souttar had started in central defence together for Rangers on just two occasions this season before tonight and Premiership wins over Livingston and Dundee had duly been recorded at home. But could the pair dovetail and make sure that another vital victory was racked up away.

The Herald: Myziane Maolida was making his debut for Hibs and Nick Montgomery also deployed Dylan Vente and Elie Youan in his front three. Balogun and Souttar handled the threat the hosts posed well by and large.

That said, they had their goalkeeper Jack Butland to thank for keeping them both level and ahead during the course of the 90 minutes.

Butland denied Youan, Jair Tavares and most notably Hertha Berlin loanee Maolida, who looked certain to open his account after half-time when Youan found him in space with a cut back, and kept another clean sheet.

The former Birmingham City, Stoke City and Crystal Palace player has been an exceptional signing. It is no wonder supporters adore him and chant his name every time he takes to the field.


Philippe Clement preferred Fabio Silva up front to Dessers even though the Nigerian striker had taken his tally for the season to 10 with a goal in the 4-1 win over Dumbarton in a Scottish Cup fourth round tie at The Rock on Saturday night.

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He clearly believes the Wolves loanee – whose parent club splashed out a cool £35m on back in 2020 – has more to offer in the final third of the park than the former Utrecht, Genk, Feyenoord and Cremonese front man.

The Portuguese forward, though, has to receive better quality service from his team mates to show why he once commanded an eight figure fee.

The 21-year-old showed an admirable willingness to drop deep and get involved in build-up play and he was tidy whenever he managed to get on the ball. But he has been brought in provide a much-needed cutting edge in attack while Danilo and Kemar Roofe are unavailable.

Silva, who made way for Dessers with around 20 minutes remaining, needs better ammunition to make a greater impact. His replacement scored almost immediately after being teed up by his fellow substitute Dujon Sterling in a dangerous area.   


Clement has assured reporters on numerous occasions during the January transfer window that he has no concerns about Yilmaz’s commitment to the Rangers cause as rumours about the left back leaving have persisted.

The Herald: He was correct not to have any concerns. The Turkish defender did well to break the deadlock following a piece of magic by John Lundstram. The Englishman chipped over the heads of the flat-footed Hibs defence and his team mate ghosted in, controlled the delivery and rifled beyond David Marshall.  

The 22-year-old is not a regular scorer – it was just the second time he had managed to find the target this season – and he clearly enjoyed the moment by milking the applause of the supporters in the away end.

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Yilmaz has struggled to justify his £4m fee since joining Rangers from Besiktas back in 2022 on the occasions that he has been preferred to Borna Barisic. However, he has impressed of late. Those of a cynical nature may suggest that is because he is seeking a move away and is hoping to attract interested parties.

But if he does depart in the coming days – and that very much depends on a replacement being acquired - he will be missed.


The Englishman has many detractors in the Scottish game. There are many opposition fans who feel the blonde-haired playmaker goes to ground too easily, spends too much time on social media and is a bit of a show pony.

But the former Norwich City midfielder did well to dust himself down after being bundled into the Hibs technical area by Youan and Kanayo Megwa and doubling Rangers’ lead in added on time at the end of the first half.

The challenge on Cantwell incensed his manager. Clement protested to fourth official Duncan McLean and referee Stevie McLean had a few quiet words with the irate Belgian on the touchline to calm him down.

However, his player responded immediately to the rough treatment after receiving medical attention. He turned on a sixpence after being supplied by Ross McCausland in the opposition area and netted confidently.

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He failed to reappear for the second half, however, and was replaced by Tom Lawrence.   


Clement revealed before kick-off that Abdallah Sima had undergone an operation on the injury which had ruled him out of the African Cup of Nations and will be sidelined for two to three months as a result.

Rabbi Matondo can expect to get an extended run in the Rangers first team while the left-sided Senegalese forward is recuperating. The Wales internationalist was lively enough tonight and gave teenage Megwa a difficult evening. If he can show greater composure in front of goal he will ensure Sima is not missed too badly.

The Herald: