Violence mars Hibs’ first Scottish Cup in 114 years

Glasgow (AFP) – Hibernian ended their 114-year wait for the Scottish Cup with a last-minute 3-2 win over Rangers on Saturday but the final was marred as rival fans fought on the Hampden Park pitch.

Rangers claimed their players and staff were assaulted and they were so fearful for their safety that they were unable to collect their losers medals at the presentation.

Hibs had taken a third-minute lead through Anthony Stokes but Rangers went into the break level following Kenny Miller’s 27th minute headed equaliser.

Andy Halliday fired Rangers in front for the first time in the 64th minute with a superb strike before Stokes headed Hibs level in the 80th minute.

The game appeared to be heading to extra time before captain David Gray headed home in stoppage time to spark wild scenes amongst the Hibernian support, who flooded on to the pitch at full-time to celebrate.

But ugly scenes then followed as rival supporters clashed on the pitch with mounted police called in to separate them.

Rangers condemned the violence.

“Rangers Football Club is shocked at the disgraceful behaviour of Hibs fans at full-time,” said a club statement.

“Rangers players and staff were assaulted by these fans who invaded the pitch, and in the interests of their own safety could not return to the pitch for the medal presentation.

“There can be no place for the violent behaviour witnessed at the end of the final and Rangers fully expect the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland to launch an investigation to find out where security measures failed and why.

“The club would like to commend Rangers fans for the restraint they showed under severe provocation.”

The trophy presentation was delayed by over 30 minutes in order to clear the pitch but this was of little concern to a Hibs side who claimed a European spot for the first time since 2012.

Hibs manager Alan Stubbs said he wouldn’t let the scenes at the end take the shine off his side’s victory after they made up for the disappointment of missing out on promotion to the Scottish Premiership.

– Disappointing –

“It’s not going to take away the satisfaction of what we’ve just achieved,” Stubbs said.

“It’s disappointing and we don’t want to see it, but from our point of view it was a fantastic game and we managed to do  it and show a little bit of bottle.”

Rangers, who pipped Hibs to the Championship title, were handed a boost with the return of top-scorer Martyn Waghorn to the starting line-up following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Stubbs left James Keating on the bench in favour of on-loan Celtic striker Stokes. 

The Irish international soon repaid his manager’s faith in him as he fired home the opener. 

Strike partner Jason Cummings played Stokes down the left wing and the striker raced at the retreating Rob Kiernan and James Tavernier in the Rangers rearguard before slotting an angled shot beyond Wes Foderingham.

Rangers, without a competitive game for three weeks, looked off the pace in the early exchanges as Hibs threatened to add another with Stokes, Cummings and John McGinn all coming close.

However, the Gers conjured up an equaliser with their first meaningful attack of the game through veteran Miller. 

James Tavernier sent a teasing cross in to the Hibs box and the 36-year-old outmuscled the Hibs defence to bullet a header beyond Conrad Logam.

Their lead was almost short-lived as Stokes saw his effort from 30 yards out smack the base of the post a minute later.

Hibs bombarded the Rangers goal in the run up to the break with Foderingham pulling off saves to deny Stokes and Cummings before the former sent a header wide of the target from close range with the goal gaping.

Stokes forced Foderingham in to another save shortly after the break and Liam Fontaine headed wide as Hibs looked to pick up where they had left off.

However, Rangers began to slowly get a foothold in the game and a stunning strike from Halliday put them in front for the first time in the 64th minute. 

The former Bradford midfielder took a touch before rifling an unstoppable strike in to the bottom left hand corner from 20 yards out.

Hibs looked to Stokes for a response and after twice firing off target the striker headed the Easter Road side level as he got in front of Tavernier to nod Liam Henderson’s corner in from close range.

With time running out Gray became the hero for Hibs as he bulleted home Henderson’s corner to claim the cup for the Edinburgh club.

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