Hibernian 0 Rangers 2 (Arveladze 34, Lovenkrands 48) - Scottish Cup

Last updated : 10 January 2004 By Grandmaster Suck
Attendance 11,398

The tie had been billed as a potential banana skin for
the Cup Holders, yet in the final analysis the Ibrox
men strolled to victory over opponents who had plenty
of effort and enthusiasm but little imagination or
creativity to unlock the visitors’ defence.

Rangers made three changes from the side who had
failed so lamentably at Celtic Park one week ago, with
Paulo Vanoli, Nuno Capucho and Zurab Khizanishvili
replacing Michael Ball, Gavin Rae and the suspended
Craig Moore against a team that had not beaten Rangers
in the Scottish Cup for all of 32 years.

There were predictably huge gaps in the home support
at kick-off, yet it was Hibs who made all the early
running, pressing furiously without actually creating
a single chance.

A spate of bookings littered the opening half-hour
(four in total with Capucho the lone Ranger) as the
game developed into a typical cup-tie, although there
was a distinct lack of goalmouth action.

Rangers suffered an injury blow in 32 minutes when
Chris Burke was carried off with an ankle injury, to
be replaced by French / Tunisian youngster Hamed
Namouchi, recently signed from Cannes, and the
substitute (a goalscorer against Celtic for the
Under-21’s on Monday) made an immediate impact,
heading a Peter Lovenkrands cross back across goal for
Shota Arveladze to head home.

Hibs made a strong appeal for offside, but the
Georgian had been played on by both Gary Smith and
Colin Murdock.

Four minutes later Stefan Klos had to look lively to
hold a Scott Brown volley from a Kevin Thomson cross
as Hibs pressed for the equaliser.

Namouchi was looking the part on his first-team debut,
and might have added a second on the stroke of
half-time when he was released clean through by Mikel
Arteta only to be foiled by Steven Whittaker. In
fairness it looked a good tackle, but Referee Mike
McCurry awarded Rangers a free-kick on the edge of the
box, a decision that, if it was a foul, should have
resulted in a red card for Whittaker.

Manager Alex McLeish replaced Capucho with Michael
Mols at the interval, and once again the substitute
made an immediate impact, feeding Lovenkrands wide on
the left, and the Dane cut inside before rifling the
ball past Swedish goalkeeper Daniel Andersson at his
near post.

Former Ranger Stephen Dobbie tested Klos with a
twenty-yard drive on the hour, but by now the Cup
Holders were coasting, content to play out time with a
two-goal lead.

Namouchi might have capped his debut with a goal in 88
minutes when he was sent clear by Mols, but the
youngster showed his inexperience by blasting the ball
wide of the target when he could have advanced
unchecked for perhaps another ten yards.

Nevertheless Rangers had negotiated a difficult hurdle
in their defence on the Scottish Cup.

Manager Alex McLeish afterwards praised his players:

"It takes a special breed of player to play for
Rangers, players with character. My players showed
spirit today."

He also attacked again the former players who have
criticised him so severely this week - in particular
Rino Gattuso:

"These are former players who have no idea what it is
like to be a manager. They offer opinions without
having any responsibility."

HIBERNIAN Andersson; Smith, Murdock, Doumbe,
Whittaker; Brebner (Nicol 12), Riordan, Brown,
Thomson; O’Connor, Dobbie
UNUSED SUBS Reid, Hyldgaard, Baillie, Orman

RANGERS Klos; Ricksen, Khizanishvili, Berg, Vanoli;
Burke (Namouchi 32), Malcolm, Arteta, Lovenkrands;
Arveladze, Capucho (Mols 45)
UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Ball, Ostenstad

REFEREE Mike McCurry