Hibs lost out to Rangers in front of a packed Easter Road tonight despite dominating throughout.
The hosts took an early lead and created chance after chance but two goals from the visitors just before half time gave them an undeserved lead.
Hibs had numerous chances to equalise and were denied a clear cut late penalty when referee Kevin Clancy failed to spot a handball inside the penalty area and the visitors hug on to secure all three points.
Neil Lennon made three changes to the side that drew with Celtic on Sunday with Darren McGregor, Simon Murray and Oli Shaw replacing Steven Whittaker, Brandon Barker and Marvin Bartley who all dropped to the bench.
After a pulsating start to the game, Hibs took a deserved lead in the 8th minute after good work from Murray who cut in from the left before cutting the ball back to Lewis Stevenson who fired a right foot strike into the net off Bruno Alves.
Moments later former Hibs’ striker Kenny Miller was stretchered off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Daniel Candeias.
Hibs continued to press forward and Wes Foderingham did well to block a shot from captain Paul Hanlon.
Shaw then found Martin Boyle with an inch perfect through ball but the winger’s powerful shot was straight at the Rangers’ keeper.
With Hibs totally dominant, Rangers equalised just before the break against the run of play when Jason Holt found Josh Windass who fired past Ofir Marciano from the edge of the area.
In time added on Alfredo Morelos beat Hanlon inside the area before hammering the ball pastMarciano at his near post to give the visitors an undeserved lead.
Brandon Barker replaced Shaw four minutes after the restart and the on-loan winger caused Rangers problems down the left wing.
Twice the Englishman was denied by the woodwork as Lennon’s men created chance after chance.
Boyle then fired a low cross into the danger area but Murray just missed connecting with the ball from three yards.
Hibs were then denied a stonewall penalty when David Bates clearly controlled Efe Ambrose’s cross with his arm but referee Kevin Clancy unbelievably waved away their appeals to the fury of the home supporters.
With ten minutes remaining Barker cut in from the left but his powerful effort flew agonisingly inches over the bar.
Lennon then replaced Murray with Whittaker and moved Hanlon up front but despite late pressure Rangers held on to secure all three points.
After the game Lennon told BBC Scotland: It’s a clear penalty. It’s the clearest hand-ball you will see this season.
“The linesman’s looking right at it. I’ve just had a word with him and he said he didn’t think it was a penalty. He must’ve been the only one in the ground. It’s totally unacceptable.”
“We were sensational tonight, and we thoroughly deserved to get something from the game.
“I can’t believe we’ve lost it but sometimes you don’t get the luck. We’ve absolutely pumped Rangers second half, and I didn’t even think we deserved to draw the game, let alone lose it.”
“The goalkeeper (Ofir Marciano) will be disappointed with his performance. He’s only really had to deal with two or three shots on target.
“He shouldn’t get beat with the first one, and he definitely shouldn’t get beat with the second one. He’s actually guessing, and that’s disappointing and he knows that. However, he’s been excellent for us since he’s come in.”
“The two wingers (Martin Boyle and Brandon Barker) were unplayable, absolutely unbelievable, but I need to look at my strikers – Simon’s (Murray) missed a tap-in; he needs to score that.
“The amount of balls we flashed across the face of goal from the two wingers was incredible – it just needed someone to get on the end of one, and the game’s ours.
“We worked the ball brilliantly into wide areas, put great balls across the goal, and they’re begging to be put in.
“Concentration at both ends of the park (was a problem for Hibs), but in the throes of the game we were absolutely magnificent, the football was breathtaking at times.
“I’m really happy with the level of performance, and there’s a sense of injustice that we haven’t got something, but we’ll get ready for Aberdeen and look forward to that.”
Hibs: Marciano, Hanlon, McGinn, McGeouch, S. Murray (Whittaker 86’), Stevenson, Boyle, McGregor, Ambrose, Stoles, Shaw (Barker 50’). Substitutes not used: Dawbrowski, Bartley, Slivka, F. Murray, Porteous.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, John, Wilson, Miller (Candeias 13’), Windass, Morelos (Herrera 83’), Alves, Holt, Barjonas (Bates 71’), McCrorie. Substitutes not used: Kelly, Hodson, Kranjcar, Pena.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.