11 Aug Jermain Defoe scores hat-trick as Rangers run riot against Hibernian
Jermain Defoe’s hat-trick rounded off a jubilant week for Rangers as they mauled 10-man Hibernian 6-1 at Ibrox.
Steven Gerrard’s team welcomed Paul Heckingbottom’s men to Glasgow with confidence surging after following up their last-gasp win at Kilmarnock in their Ladbrokes Premiership opener with an impressive four-goal display against Midtjylland in the Europa League.
Defoe was given the nod over Gers’ midweek man-of-the-match Alfredo Morelos and the veteran poacher proved he deserved his place with a clinical treble.
Morelos then made sure he got in on the act as he quickly added two after replacing his strike rival, with Sheyi Ojo’s late strike rounding off a dream seven days for the Ibrox side.
Daryl Horgan had pulled one back for Hibs just before half-time but hopes of a comeback died as soon as Sean Mackie was dismissed 10 minutes into the second half.
Gerrard asked the Ibrox faithful to help his weary side out after their midweek exploits in Denmark by turning the noise levels up.
The fans did as they were asked and got their reward inside nine minutes.
Ofir Marciano got himself in a mess as Ojo pulled the trigger from 20 yards out.
There did not seem much movement on the strike but the keeper was wrong-footed all the same and could only parry the ball back out to Defoe who simply does not pass up such generosity.
The volume was raised again six minutes later as Gers carved Heckingbottom’s team apart with a move as stylish as it was ruthless.
Jordan Jones carried on from where he left off in midweek as he screwed Steven Whittaker into the ground with a double dip of the shoulder.
Charging on, the former Kilmarnock wideman played a precision ball in behind for Ojo, whose cut-back was laid on a plate for Defoe to tuck home as he darted across the front post.
But just as they were punished for a brief lapse against Midtjylland on Thursday, so they suffered again as Scott Allan was given time and space to pick a pass.
His stunning reverse ball cut the home defence in two as it found Horgan, who raced in to pull one back five minutes from half-time.
Having booked Darren McGregor within the first five minutes for a foul on Jones, referee John Beaton made a rod for his own back as he was then forced to caution Christian Doidge, Mackie and Josh Vella, plus Rangers duo Ojo and Nikola Katic, all during the first period for similarly mild offences.
But the referee was given little choice about dishing out his opening yellow of the second half – quickly followed by a red – to Mackie as the young defender used an arm to block James Tavernier’s chipped pass to Defoe.
Tavernier should have wrapped up the points as Ryan Jack cut in from the right to tee up the skipper but his strike sailed over the bar – sparking a huge groan as the jittery home support began to worry their profligacy may yet prove costly.
But they need not have fretted as Defoe put the game to bed with 16 minutes left.
Steven Davis surged into the box before standing up an inch-perfect cross to the back post, where the former England striker did the business with his head.
Defoe was given a standing ovation as he was immediately replaced by Morelos but the Colombian is not one to be outdone and added a fourth after 77 minutes as he stuck the ball through Vela’s legs before drilling under Marciano.
The scoring was not done there though. First Greg Stewart stripped the hapless Whittaker again before rolling in Morelos to tuck home again, before Ojo found the net with the last kick of the game thanks to a helpful deflection.