Michael Beale post match press conference 👆🏻
Rangers had to come from behind twice to defeat Hibernian in new manager Michael Beale’s first domestic match at Ibrox. Goals from Fashion Sakala, Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos secured all three points after Ryan Porteous and Kevin Nisbet had put the visitors 2-1 in front at the break.
Pre-match, Beale said he wanted his team to “take the handbrake” off and excite an expectant home crowd on a chilly evening under the floodlights. And excitement was certainly what was delivered, perahps too much for the liking.
Three changes were made from Saturday’s friendly triumph over Leverkusen, with John Lundstram, Fashion Sakala and Morelos replacing Leon King, Rabbi Matondo and Antonio Colak.
King—who recently joined longer-term absentee Ianis Hagi in signing a new contract—and the Croatian striker were absent from the squad completely. King with a sickness bug and Colak with a knock.
The new gaffer opted to start no out-and-out central-defenders as Lundstram and James Sands operated at the heart of the Gers’ rearguard, with Ben Davies returning to the bench from injury.
Hibs were the first to force a save as Allan McGregor pulled off a great stop, tipping a shot from the edge of the box by Ellie Youan over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Porteous headed home unmarked to put the Edinburgh team in front.
The defender worryingly almost added a second not long after. Rangers were caught out from a throw-in on the right and Porteous saw his long-range volley fire just over under pressure from Tillman.
The Gers were level 16 minutes in—Sakala drilling a fine effort across David Marshall from the left-hand side after being picked out by Ryan Kent.
Unbelievably, Hibs regained the lead almost straightaway. Captain James Tavernier lost possession from kick-off and a long ball forward deceived both Sands and Lundstram. The onrushing Nisbet calmly fired past McGregor.
Rangers looked really open at the back in the first half as their opponents looked to exploit their makeshift defence.
At the other end, the home side were struggling to create many clear-cut chances, either. Shots from distance by Morelos and Lundstram causing Marshall no issues.
McGregor was called into action once again in the 42nd minute, denying Youan with his legs after the defence was easily cut open.
The Light Blues needed a much better performance in the second period.
Sakala had a point-blank header saved by Marshall after a dinked cross from the left as the Ibrox faithful demanded an equaliser.
And they did not have to wait too long—Ryan Jack sliding in the six-yard box to slam home after a front-post flick on from a corner nine minutes after the break.
The stadium erupted again soon after when Morelos converted a Tillman cut-back. Played through brilliantly by Tavernier, the Bayern-loanee showed great footwork on the byline before setting up the Columbian for a tap-in.
Rangers were now in much better form, moving the ball more quickly and incisively as they searched for another to kill the game as a contest.
The attackers were on song, supplied by the likes of skipper Tavernier and the trusty midfield pairing of Jack and Kamara.
The hosts saw the remainder of the 90 out well to give Beale a winning start, something he’ll look to continue when his side faces another strong early test, a trip to Pittodrie on Tuesday.
Team line ups
1 Allan McGregor
2 James Tavernier
4 John Lundstram
19 James Sands
44 Adam Devine
18 Glen Kamara
8 Ryan Jack
71 Malik Tillman
14 Ryan Kent
30 Fashion Sakala
20 Alfredo Morelos
33 Jon McLaughlin
10 Steven Davis
17 Rabbi Matondo
23 Scott Wright
26 Ben Davies
42 Charlie McCann
37 Scott Arfield
49 Robbie Fraser
51 Alex Lowry
1 David Marshall
3 Marijan Cabraja
4 Paul Hanlon
5 Ryan Porteous
7 Kyle Magennis
11 Joe Newell
12 Chris Cadden
15 Kevin Nisbet
23 Elie Youan
32 Josh Campbell
33 Rocky Bashiri
13 Ryan Schofield
6 Noahan Kenneh
16 Lewis Stevenson
18 Ewan Henderson
19 Demetri Mitchell
20 Elias Melkersen
22 Harry McKirdy
25 Will Fish
46 Aiden McGeady
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