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Rangers lose 3-1 to Hibs in the League Cup semi-final and Martin Boyle scores a hat-trick in the first half

The plot was always established. An inspiring presence was to appear in Hampden and see Hampden’s paltry record erased from his club.

And so it happened. For Martin Boyle and Hibernian. What a performance for Boyle to put together a hat-trick in the first half, a first for the Easter Road side. What a result for Jack Ross and his players after suffering three losses here in the last 14 months.

The Rangers, of course, had seen the plot from a different perspective. This was supposed to be the day that they welcomed Giovanni van Bronckhorst perfectly.

Martin Boyle was the hero when Hibs beat Rangers 3-1 to reach the Premier Sports Cup final.

Martin Boyle was the hero when Hibs beat Rangers 3-1 to reach the Premier Sports Cup final.

Sitting atop the south stand of the national stadium, the incoming coach watched with growing disappointment as events unfolded on the pitch.

The hope of winning a trophy in the first month of his tenure faded before his eyes. Instead, dispelling the pain of this terrible defeat will be a major task when you formally begin work today.

Those about to come under his command didn’t exactly make a positive first impression. The Rangers fought back lamentably.

The Hibs forward opened the scoring with just nine minutes played at Hampden Park

The Hibs forward opened the scoring with just nine minutes played at Hampden Park

The Hibs forward opened the scoring with just nine minutes played at Hampden Park

Boyle added a second with a brilliantly taken shot when Hibs went 2-0 in 21 minutes.

Boyle added a second with a brilliantly taken shot when Hibs went 2-0 in 21 minutes.

Boyle added a second with a brilliantly taken shot when Hibs went 2-0 in 21 minutes.

And then he completed his hat-trick from the spot shortly before halftime when Hibs went 3-0 up.

And then he completed his hat-trick from the spot shortly before halftime when Hibs went 3-0 up.

And then he completed his hat-trick from the spot shortly before halftime when Hibs went 3-0 up.

None of that mattered to Hibs. Ross roared in delight with the final whistle, grabbing assistant John Potter in a hug. Little wonder. His track record in getting to Hampden is excellent. Yet all too often the prosecution has been on his side leaving all his self-confidence somewhere along the M8.

How different it was here. Hibs didn’t look back from Boyle’s ninth-minute opener that capitalized on the early part of the Rangers’ fragility. A magnificent ending and a perfect penalty followed quickly.

In the space of 29 minutes, Boyle secured a match ball worth putting in a display case and organized a final Premier Sports Cup meeting with Celtic on December 19. You will never forget this day.

It was even more impressive considering what preceded it. Hibs had suffered four successive defeats before a forced layoff by Covid. Without a game for three and a half weeks, questions were asked about his preparation. All were answered positively. They did not have a failure in their ranks.

The Rangers scored a goal through Scott Arfield before halftime, but that was the best he could.

The Rangers scored a goal through Scott Arfield before halftime, but that was the best he could.

The Rangers scored a goal through Scott Arfield before halftime, but that was the best he could.

Rangers fans will inevitably wonder if he could have been different with Van Bronckhorst in the technical area. An interim coaching team, led by B-team manager David McCallum, was in charge in his place when the Dutchman’s work permit was finalized.

Scott Arfield scored a goal before the break, but Hibs remained admirably enduring through the second period to claim a famous win. For the Rangers, the wait for a national cup will go beyond a decade.

During three seasons in charge, Steven Gerrard won just once at Hampden. His departure has not changed a sad story on these occasions.

Interim Rangers manager David McCallum cut a heartbroken figure on the bench

Interim Rangers manager David McCallum cut a heartbroken figure on the bench

Interim Rangers manager David McCallum cut a heartbroken figure on the bench

Much of the Ibrox team’s performance was added to a disastrous first concession.

No one attacked danger when Joe Newell threw a corner into the six-yard box. James Tavernier was somehow facing his own goal while allowing the ball to slip out of his chest.

The intervention of the Ibrox captain only managed to place Boyle, who tapped before lifting the ball into the net past the desperate Allan McGregor.

Television cameras cut Van Bronckhorst. A raised eyebrow and a little shake of his head were demonstrative enough. No one needed to ask what he thought of the lack of protection provided by the bottom line he is about to inherit.

The loss to Hibs means the Rangers' wait for a national cup will extend beyond a decade.

The loss to Hibs means the Rangers' wait for a national cup will extend beyond a decade.

The loss to Hibs means the Rangers’ wait for a national cup will extend beyond a decade.

At this point, hope for the Rangers could stem from recent history. Surprisingly, this was the successive match in which they had fallen behind, bouncing back to win three and draw two of the previous five.

Hibs, however, suddenly had real reason to believe. They were looking for more opportunities to inflict pain on the uncertain Rangers defense. And they didn’t have to wait long.

At 21 minutes, a Paul McGinn throw-in from the right sent Kevin Nisbet away from Leon Balogun with ease. The Scotland forward slid a beautiful heavy ball into the open space now in front of him.

Tavernier tried to cross for cover, but Boyle noticed in an instant. He delivered a brilliant shot with his right foot through McGregor and into the far corner of the net, sending Hibs fans out of the ranks sitting in delirium.

Jack Ross has led Hibs to two national cup finals in consecutive seasons.

Jack Ross has led Hibs to two national cup finals in consecutive seasons.

Jack Ross has led Hibs to two national cup finals in consecutive seasons.

The Hibees reached the Scottish Cup final last season but lost to St. Johnstone 1-0

The Hibees reached the Scottish Cup final last season but lost to St. Johnstone 1-0

The Hibees reached the Scottish Cup final last season but lost to St. Johnstone 1-0

The rangers were stunned. Joe Aribo’s quick feet had seemed his most likely outlet for recovery.

Paul Hanlon had hit him after just eight seconds, earning the Hibs captain a yellow card. Aribo was starting to feel like a victim when Newell followed Hanlon to referee Kevin Clancy’s reserve for a shirt pull in the third minute.

The ex-Charlton was not discouraged. Turning nimbly in midfield, he slipped a perfect pass to Alfredo Morelos. The forward ran on Hanlon but sent his shot straight to Matt Macey.

Getting Morelos back to his best form is another key challenge awaiting Van Bronckhorst.

Incoming Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst watched from the stands

Incoming Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst watched from the stands

Incoming Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst watched from the stands

The Dutchman will officially take over as manager once his work permit expires

The Dutchman will officially take over as manager once his work permit expires

The Dutchman will officially take over as manager once his work permit expires

Then, Aribo was rejected by an excellent block from Hanlon, before sending a strike too high after a few tricks on the touchline. The Rangers badly needed more on their wavelength.

A clash between Morelos and Porteous enraged the Hibs center-back, who twisted after being hit in the face. There did not appear to be any intention on the Colombian’s part, but Ross still ventured to the match officials.

He was happier with a call from Clancy in the 38th minute. In truth, it was simple for the referee after Steven Davis went through the back of Boyle’s right leg to knock down the Aussie winger and award a penalty.

Only one man was going to accept it. Confidently, Boyle hit the ball down the middle as McGregor dove to his right.

Getting Alfredo Morelos back in shape will be one of the priorities on Van Bronckhorst's agenda

Getting Alfredo Morelos back in shape will be one of the priorities on Van Bronckhorst's agenda

Getting Alfredo Morelos back in shape will be one of the priorities on Van Bronckhorst’s agenda

A three-goal advantage at halftime would surely have been insurmountable. Cutting it down to two gave the Rangers half a chance.

This time, the poor defense moved to the opposite end of the field. Porteous swung weakly off a Tavernier cross and sent the ball straight to Arfield inside the area. He accepted the gift by placing a left foot punch past Macey.

Van Bronckhorst must have been very tempted to go downstairs and utter a few select words in the locker room. Instead, he was seen in lively conversation with Roy Makaay, who will be a key part of his new coaching team.

For Ross, that 40-minute concession had only slightly dimmed the brilliance of an otherwise exemplary opening period. Ensuring Hibs stayed strong after the reboot was essential.

He was forced to change when Josh Doig stopped and was replaced by Lewis Stevenson. By now, the Easter Road side had retreated. Sitting deeply, they backed their organization to pay and challenged the Rangers to take them down.

It could be considered risky in the sense that a single goal could change the entire momentum. But the minutes without their opponents making inroads.

McCallum replaced Ryan Kent with Fashion Sakala. Then Arfield and, disconcertingly, Aribo gave way to Ianis Hagi and Ryan Jack.

Macey got away when a bad touch sent the ball against her own post. When Connor Goldson missed a late babysitter, shooting high over the bar, Hibs knew they were safe.

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