Ten goals, red card, injury-time equaliser – Hibs 5-5 Rangers
Rangers finished third in the Scottish Premiership after an incredible draw at Hibernian that featured 10 goals, a red card and an injury-time equaliser that completed a hat-trick.
The Gers had stormed back from 3-0 down at Easter Road to level at half-time – then led 5-3 in the second half.
But Jamie Maclaren’s late equaliser snatched a dramatic point for Hibs.
Aberdeen’s victory over Celtic meant the Gers could not have overtaken them to take second even if they had won.
Even that outcome looked unlikely when the Ibrox side went three goals down inside 22 minutes as Hibs struck through Florian Kamberi – from the penalty spot – Scott Allan and Maclaren.
Back roared the Gers, with James Tavernier, Jordan Rossiter and Bruno Alves – with a stunning free-kick – scoring.
Two deflected Jason Holt efforts – the first via Efe Ambrose, the second ricocheting off Josh Windass – put Jimmy Nicholl’s men in the driving seat, but there followed yet more drama.
Holt was dismissed for a second booking, either side of Maclaren’s close-range second and third goals, and Hibs boss Neil Lennon was sent to the stands for his celebrations after the equaliser.
The Northern Irishman has led Hibs to fourth place and a record top-flight points haul of 67 in their maiden campaign since promotion.
The Easter Road side needed a six-goal victory to leapfrog Rangers into third place, and remarkably, that prospect became a credible target with a quarter of the game gone.
Their goal spree began in the 10th minute when Maclaren was grappled to turf by David Bates inside the Gers box. Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot, and Kamberi rifled a brilliant penalty high beyond Jak Alnwick.
Eight minutes later, it got better for Hibs as Vykintas Slivka cushioned Lewis Stevenson’s cross into the path of the onrushing Allan, who bundled home.
The surge continued. Maclaren headed another excellent Stevenson delivery into the Rangers net, and Easter Road erupted.
This was beyond the Hibs fans’ wildest dreams. Their side rampant in pursuit of the shellacking they needed; Rangers crumbling amid the green-and-white hurricane that engulfed them.
As the hosts flew forward, however, they left gaping holes at the back. Defending became an afterthought as Hibs scented blood.
They received a warning shot when Holt drifted wide and cut the ball back for the unmarked Tavernier to angle home.
It was a caution Hibs failed to heed and a vital fillip for shell-shocked Rangers, whose belief and conviction grew.
A lovely Jamie Murphy through-ball set up Rossiter to drill low into the Hibs net. The play that had flown so vigorously towards the away goal had turned.
Alves, an early substitute for Sean Goss, had been introduced primarily to steady the shambolic Gers rearguard, but his impact was most keenly felt at the other end. The Portuguese centre-back bent a wonderful free-kick beyond Ofir Marciano to haul his team level before the break.
Six goals in 40 crazy minutes. This was like two prizefighters dropping their guards and slugging punch for punch.
The tackles were flying in too. Rossiter was booked for scything down Kamberi. Allan was fortunate not to see red after lunging in on Rossiter.
The sound of Dallas’s half-time whistle brought both sides – and those in the stands – blessed relief from the furore.
Nine minutes into the second period it was Rangers’ fans in full voice.
Former Hibs striker Jason Cummings played in Holt on the left. The midfielder was unmarked, and as he tried to make up ground on his opponent, Ambrose’s attempted block sent Holt’s shot into the home goal.
Holt tried his luck again from outside the box on 68 minutes, and with his effort heading wide, the ball clipped Windass and flew past the already airborne Marciano.
From 3-0 down, Rangers now led 5-3. The game looked beyond Hibs, but there was plenty tumult still to come.
Maclaren lashed home within two minutes of Windass’ goal. Lennon sent on Brandon Barker, the Manchester City speed merchant, to stretch tired Gers legs as this most pulsating of contests reached its climax.
The visitors should have had a penalty when Paul Hanlon blocked Murphy’s shot with his hand, and were reduced to 10 men with five minutes remaining when Holt cynically – and foolishly – dragged back John McGinn, earning a second yellow card.
Hibs poured forward. Crosses peppered the Rangers area. Balls were frantically scrambled clear. Dylan McGeouch, in his final game for the club, drew a firm save from Alnwick.
Three of the five additional minutes had been played when Barker sped past the exhausted Tavernier, danced along the byeline from the left, and side-footed for Maclaren to flick home.
Easter Road exploded once more. Lennon, arms outspread mimicking an aeroplane, slalomed onto the pitch in celebration and was sent to the stands. An extraordinary finale befitting a sensational match.