Rangers 3 Hibernian 0
Kris Boyd claimed his 21st goal of the season as Rangers restored their 10-point lead at the summit of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a win over high-flying Hibernian at Ibrox.
Steven Whittaker set the ball rolling with a second-half strike, before Boyd netted from the penalty spot and Kenny Miller put the gloss on the win as the Scottish champions strengthened their grip on pole position.
However, the victory over third-placed Hibs could be bittersweet for Boyd with unconfirmed reports suggesting a yellow card he picked up late in the first half could rule him out of this month’s crucial Old Firm derby.
Rangers boss Walter Smith boasted a full squad to choose from “for the first time in a long time” as DaMarcus Beasley made his first appearance since suffering a thigh injury back in mid-December.
Kevin Thomson was also back in the starting line-up after the draw with Motherwell on Wednesday night, while Kirk Broadfoot and Steven Naismith both dropped out of the squad.
Hibs boss John Hughes shuffled his pack after their midweek draw with Aberdeen, handing Alan Gow his first start and dropping Derek Riordan and Colin Nish to the bench.
Rangers started the game strongly and had Hibs under pressure right from the outset.
Beasley slipped a pass to Miller on the left flank and he whipped a dangerous ball into the box where Boyd was loitering with intent but goalkeeper Graeme Smith was able to gather before the striker could connect.
Miller then collected a Thomson ball and, despite having support from both Boyd and Beasley, opted to have a go himself and rifled narrowly over the crossbar from just outside the area.
Hibs had a decent chance of their own when Merouane Zemmama burst down the right wing before picking out Anthony Stokes at the back post but he connected awkwardly with the volley and the effort was off-target.
Some last-gasp defending was then required from Rangers when Zemmama’s corner found Paul Hanlon at the back post and his header appeared netbound until Sasa Papac hooked off the line to safety.
At the other end, David Weir claimed he was fouled in the box by Chris Hogg but referee Steve Conroy ignored the appeals for a penalty from the Ibrox skipper.
Beasley was withdrawn at the interval for Kyle Lafferty and the Northern Irishman wasted no time in testing Smith with an angled drive within seconds of the restart.
He may not have claimed the opener with that effort but Lafferty did have a part to play in the breakthrough goal with 50 minutes gone.
Whittaker weaved his way into the box before laying off to the big striker who knocked the ball back into the path of the utility man to lash past the Hibs goalkeeper into the top corner.
Rangers could have claimed a second when Madjid Bougherra embarked on one of his trademark runs up the pitch before chipping into the path of Boyd but Sol Bamba made a timely intervention before he could pull the trigger.
There was a moment of concern for the home side when Zemmama unleashed a thunderous shot from 20 yards which was blocked, and then spilled, by Allan McGregor but the Rangers goalkeeper recovered just in time to prevent the ball from trickling over the line.
However, any hopes of a Hibs comeback were dealt a blow when Miller was felled in the box by Bamba and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Boyd stepped up and drilled low under the body of Smith to double the advantage with 72 minutes on the clock, before making way for Nacho Novo before the celebrations had even ended.
It was Miller who had the final say when he raced on to a slick Thomson pass before rolling low into the net in injury time as Rangers flexed their title credentials with a 3-0 win.