GLASGOW (AFP) - Charlie Adam kept Rangers on course to clinch second place in the Scottish Premier League as he scored twice to give his side a 2-0 win at Hibernian on Sunday.
Adam's double strike, aided by two blunders from Hibs goalkeeper Simon Brown, moved Walter Smith's side seven points clear of third-placed Aberdeen and ensured leaders Celtic will not be able to clinch the title in the Old Firm derby next Sunday.
Smith admitted Rangers had rode their luck and said: "It was a very difficult match. I thought Hibs worked extremely hard. Credit to them but we stood up to it well and we've got to be pleased.
"Charlie Adam's set pieces were great today, but he had a little bit of luck for the second goal."
Rangers kicked off at Easter Road knowing that defeat would give Celtic the chance to wrap up another championship against their bitter rivals in a week's time.
That prospect would have been hard to stomach for the blue half of Glasgow and, perhaps inspired by a desire to avoid watching Celtic's celebrations at first hand, Rangers tore into Hibs.
Adam, who had been recalled in place of Nacho Novo, took his chance in style as he fired Rangers into the lead after four minutes.
The midfielder completely fooled Brown with a curling free-kick from 40 yards out on the right touchline that beat the Hibernian goalkeeper at his near post.
Adam was close to increasing Rangers's lead with a header that drifted just wide after Ian Murray had flicked on a Chris Burke corner.
Smith's team dominated the early skirmishes and Adam caused more trouble for Hibs with a corner that Alan Hutton headed just over.
The hosts finally found their usual slick passing game and David Murphy beat several defenders before being brought down on the edge of the area. Murphy took the free-kick and his effort was only just wide of the post.
Rangers keeper Allan McGregor was at full stretch to push over a swirling shot from Steven Fletcher and Thomas Sowunmi headed just over from Murphy's cross as Hibs stepped up their pressure.
Sowunmi was replaced by Abdessalam Benjelloun at half-time and the Moroccan should have equalised when he got on the end of Steven Whittaker's cross, but he could only volley wastefully over.
Rangers punished that miss as Adam scored his second but, once again, Brown was at fault.
Adam's long range free-kick was tamely struck but Brown somehow managed to let the shot slip through his legs and trickle over the line.
McGregor showed his counterpart how to do it with a superb stop as he tipped over Fletcher's left-foot strike.
Chris Burke cleared off the line from Merouane Zemmama in the final moments as Rangers held on to record their third successive league victory.
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