Football, Rugby, UFC, GAA
All free when you join eir Broadband
Hibernian secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over Rangers in a thrilling Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.
The victory, ultimately achieved through a very late David Gray header, provides Hibs with their first glory in the famous competition since 1902.
Dubliner Anthony Stokes, on loan from Celtic, opened the scoring with a fine finish in just the third minute.
Hibs created several subsequent opportunities, with Jason Cummings a particular danger, but could not add to their lead.
Kenny Miller’s strong and accurate header levelled the affair, before both first-half scorers struck the frame of their respective opponents’ goals.
Hibs dominated the close to the first period, again failing to take advantage, and a fantastic strike from long range by Andy Halliday ensured that Rangers led entering the final quarter.
However, corner kicks from substitute Liam Henderson resulted in headed goals for Stokes and Gray, as the underdogs secured a spectacular win.
Victory in the competition’s first final to feature no top-tier sides ensures that an otherwise disappointing season for Alan Stubbs and his troops ends on a high, following failure at the semi-final stage of the playoffs to reach the Premiership and defeat in the Scottish League Cup final.
For Rangers, who comfortably won the Championship and claimed Challenge Cup success, the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of a largely excellent campaign.
Hibernian’s triumph was marred somewhat by a pitch invasion after the final whistle, with reports of fights between rival supporters, the tension having built since the fans had first entered the stadium and heightened by a thrilling opening to the encounter.
Stokes shocked the Glaswegians very early on, taking a short pass from Cummings on the left wing and, with Rob Kiernan choosing to back of, slipping an good finish past Wes Foderingham.
Cummings, a near-constant threat to Rangers, was denied Hibs’ second goal by the quick reactions and bravery of Foderingham, with Stokes’s follow-up effort deflected wide.
The Edinburgh men were punished by Miller’s powerful 27th-minute header from James Tavernier's out-swinging cross.
Strokes went within an inch or so of restoring Hibernian’s lead, striking the inside of the post with a 25-yard effort, before Barrie McKay's corner was headed onto the crossbar at the other end by Miller.
Foderingham saved superbly from Stokes and Cummings, prior to the Irishman heading a guilt-edged chance wide of the target, as Hibs dominated the closing stages of the opening half.
Stokes and Liam Fontaine went close early in the second period before Halliday received a pass inside from McKay, turned and drove a rising left-footed drive past Conrad Logan from well outside of the penalty area.
Stokes, though, restored parity with 10 minutes of the clash remaining, heading Henderson's corner high into the net.
Rangers briefly appeared more likely to be the side to remove the necessity of extra time, but it was Hibs who triumphed, as another Henderson delivery to the near post was met by a fine header across and into the net from Gray.
With the goal arriving in injury time, there was little chance for the Gers to find an equaliser or for the ecstatic Hibernian fans to settle.
The excitement in the stands spilled over onto the pitch, with thousands of Hibs supporters rushing onto the playing surface, where clashes were reported to have taken place between the triumphant fans and pockets of the Rangers faithful.
The Easter Road giants will desperately hope that the final is not remembered for what followed the encounter, but rather for what was a spectular victory against the odds.
By David Maher