GLASGOW: A late goal from substitute Claudio Caniggia helped Rangers win 2-0 at Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League while champions Celtic also enjoyed a 2-0 victory against bottom side Dundee United.
Barry Ferguson scored Rangers's opener early in the second period on Wednesday to ensure the Glasgow side maintain their slender three point lead over city rivals Celtic.
Rangers top the table with 66 points from 25 games with Celtic on 63 having played the same number of games. Hearts who won 1-0 at Aberdeen on Tuesday are a distant third on 40 points.
If we're going to have any aspirations of winning the title we have to come to places like Easter Road and grind out three points, Rangers manager Alex McLeish told reporters.
Hibs put up a spirited display against the SPL leaders in the first period with Tom McManus and Garry O'Connor a constant menace.
But Rangers made them pay for lacking a cutting edge when Dutchman Ronald de Boer fed Ferguson with a wonderful pass and he smashed his 16th goal of the season high beyond home goalkeeper Nick Colgan.
Hibs pushed bodies forward in the hope of an equaliser and midfielder Grant Brebner who scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 Scottish Cup win over Dundee United on Saturday forced Rangers keeper Stefan Klos to make a fine save.
Rangers had to survive a few more scares before Caniggia, who replaced Michael Mols on 69 minutes, wrapped up the three points when he slipped home Neil McCann's inch-perfect cross with only minutes left.
The night ended on a sour note for the home side when defender Gary Smith was red-carded for aiming a kick at McCann then showing dissent to the referee in the dying seconds.
Celtic wrapped up their 13th successive win against United, who they face in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park next week, courtesy of goals from John Hartson and Henrik Larsson.
Celtic struck their first of the night on 26 minutes when Jamie Smith crossed for John Hartson to head home and Larsson secured the win with his 33rd goal of the season four minutes later.
Chris Sutton and Stilian Petrov combined well for Larsson to slot the ball into the net but United never gave up and played doggedly without ever threatening after the break. Reuters