Hibernian held Rangers to a 1-1 draw at Easter Road on Wednesday evening to dent the visitor's title hopes.

A stunning first-half strike from Derek Riordan put Hibs in front against Walter Smith's men, who never got going in the first period at all.

The Glasgow side made a double change at the break and were a completely different team as they chased an equalisier that eventually came on 80 minutes when Nacho Novo fired in.

However, the winning goal never arrived and The Gers remain in second place as rivals Celtic have a slightly better goal difference and they have made it tougher for themselves to regain pole position.

Mixu Paatelainen will have been pleased with how his team performed throughout, although even he would have been surprised when former Celtic striker Riordan broke the deadlock on 41 minutes.

Hibs moved forward with some quick passing and Steven Fletcher picked the ball up on the edge of the opposition's penalty area, but he quickly offloaded to his strike partner, who superbly curled the ball past keeper Neil Alexander.

If that goal didn't fire Rangers up then the half-time team talk from Smith surely did as he replaced Steven Smith and Andrius Velicka with Kyle Lafferty and Novo.

The attacking duo had an immediate impact as the away side suddenly looked like a completely different side as they pressed forward in search of an equalisier.

Novo crossed for Kris Boyd, who tamely headed towards goal. Then the zippy striker blasted over when set up by Lafferty and missed the target when Steven Whittaker did well to pick him out.

Steve Davis tried his luck with a long-range effort, but Hibs keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay pulled off a fine save to deny the Northern Ireland international. The pressure was certainly mounting on the Hibs goal at this stage.

The hosts then tried to catch their opponents on the break, but Sol Bamba, who was excellent throughout, dragged his shot wide when he really should have tested Alexander.

Back up the other end, Rangers thought they had scored when Novo somehow clipped the ball towards the goal after a scramble but Ross Chisholm hooked it clear before it crossed the line.

Again, Hibs were presented with a chance to end the contest when Madjid Bougherra failed to clear the danger inside his own box and the ball fell to Riordan, who scuffed his shot.

But there was no way that the visitors were not going to get at least one goal from this. Novo was the man who got it when a Bougherra cross was headed back into the box by Christian Dailly and Lafferty did enough to put the keeper off before Novo fired in.

While their second-half display was encouraging, Smith will know that this simply wasn't good enough from Rangers and that they now need Celtic to slip up if they are to win the title.

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