Jack Ross insists Hibernian’s stunning 3-1 semi-final win over Rangers will bolster confidence for their Premier Sports Cup final against the other half of the Old Firm next month.
Martin Boyle scored a sensational hat-trick within 38 minutes – the third from the spot – before Gers midfielder Scott Arfield’s strike gave the flailing Ibrox side a lifeline.
However, with new Rangers boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst watching from the Hampden Park main stand as he awaits a work permit, Hibs remained resilient under pressure and can now look forward to taking on Celtic at the national stadium on December 19.
Speaking at the post-match media conference where Rangers were not represented, Ross said: “You need to keep breaking down barriers and we’ve done that a little bit today.
“We’ve won semi-finals before here but to do it against one of the big two means a lot and the players will grow from that.
“We’ve got a lot of league games first and we’ll have to repeat that kind of performance.
“But we’ll know we can handle the occasion even though the prize will be bigger. The opposition will be on a par with today.”
Hibs lost to St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final and to the Perth side in the League Cup semi-final last season.
The season before that, they came up short against Edinburgh rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Ross insisted his side responded to the pain of those defeats and their recent form which brought four straight losses, including a 2-1 loss to the Light Blues in the cinch Premiership at Ibrox.
He said: “We’ve had some sore days here recently and obviously we’ve had a tough run. The players have felt the pain of that.
“It hurts in your gut when you lose games here. We were in a final last time we were here and that hurt.
“The games between us recently have been highly competitive.
“You saw their manager’s reaction when they won the game at Ibrox. It meant a lot to us to put that right.
“The pace of the first half was ridiculous. We have spoken about being very good against Rangers but the results haven’t gone our way and the key moments maybe went against us.
“Today, the first goal was maybe a bit fortuitous in the way it fell to Martin but that’s a big moment because it gives us momentum.
“The second half we had to be resilient, defend properly and put bodies on the line.
“We worked incredibly hard while not carrying as much of an attacking threat, but we were outstanding in terms of wanting to defend our lead.”
While Van Bronckhorst sat in the stand, Rangers were led by B-team boss David McCallum and his assistant Brian Gilmour, and they were helped by player-coach Jermain Defoe and goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart.
McCallum told Rangers TV that the result was “hugely disappointing”.
He said: “I thought we started the game brightly, we asked them to be aggressive and be on the front foot but when you lose the goals in the manner we did in the first half, it is almost inexplainable.
“The players are frustrated as we all are because each one is avoidable.
“I know it is easy as a coach to say that but when you look back at individual moments I don’t think there is any question that we should defend them much better.”