Novo grabs vital point but Rangers left frustrated

NACHO NOVO rescued a point for Rangers against Hibernian in controversial circumstances as the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title race took another dramatic turn last night.

The Ibrox side were furious an earlier effort from the Spaniard was not allowed to stand after Derek Riordan had given the home side the lead.

The 1-1 draw saw Rangers squander the opportunity to move clear of Celtic at the summit, with goal difference all that separates the Old Firm rivals heading into the final two games of the SPL season.

Rangers had a decent chance when Riordan lost possession to Pedro Mendes, who teed up the shot for Boyd but the striker was denied by a timely block from Jones.

But it was Hibs who took a lead four minutes before the break when Steven Fletcher played in Riordan for the shot and he lofted over Neil Alexander from just outside the box.

Rangers were clearly lacking pace up front and Kyle Lafferty and Novo were both introduced for the second half at the expense of Steven Smith and Andrius Velicka.

The pair had an immediate impact, with Novo squaring into the path of Boyd for a header Yves Ma-Kalambay managed to claim at full stretch.

Lafferty then did well to race past Van Zanten before setting up Novo for the shot but the striker somehow managed to blast over when it looked easier to find the target.

Rangers thought they had pulled a goal back with just over 20 minutes remaining. Boyd’s initial shot was blocked by the keeper before Novo claimed he bundled over the line. But despite protests to the referee and his assistant – which earned yellow cards for Mendes and Lafferty – the goal was not given.

However Rangers did manage to haul themselves back into the game with 11 minutes to go when a Bougherra cross was fumbled by Ma-Kalambay.

Davis tried to prod home but it was Novo who eventually managed to force the ball over the line.

lElsewhere in the SPL Falkirk beat Hamilton 1-0, Kilmarnock beat St Mirren 2-1 while Motherwell and Inverness drew 2-2.

HIBERNIAN: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Murray, Chisholm, Bamba (Thicot 90), Rankin, Stevenson, Fletcher (O’Brien 86), Riordan.

RANGERS: Alexander, Dailly, Bougherra, Weir, Whittaker, Davis, Mendes, Edu, Steven Smith (Novo 46), Boyd, Velicka (Lafferty 46). Subs Not Used: McGregor, McCulloch, Naismith, Fleck, Wilson. Referee: E Smith (Scotland).

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