Lee Johnson wants improvement from Hibernian after draw with Rangers

The Hibs boss says his side have to start games better.

Lee Johnson wants improvement from Hibernian after draw with Rangers SNS Group

Lee Johnson admits Hibernian still have loads of room for improvement after they scored their third stoppage-time goal in four cinch Premiership games to secure a 2-2 draw in an action-packed showdown with nine-man Rangers at Easter Road.

Hibs, who had previously notched a late winner away to St Johnstone and a last-gasp equaliser at home to Hearts this term, denied the Europa League finalists victory when Josh Campbell fired home a stunning half-volley after Rangers pair John Lundstram and Alfredo Morelos had been sent off.

Although happy with his team’s second-half display, Johnson – who made the bold call of substituting both Paul Hanlon and Ewan Henderson in the 27th minute – feels Hibs must improve.

“I’m not sure what this club’s doing to my heart,” he said after their latest dramatic finale. “First half we were really poor, certainly first 30 minutes.

“I envisaged a much better, more aggressive front-foot performance but we didn’t lay a glove on Rangers in the first half.

“Too many of our players were on the back foot and I bit the bullet and made the two changes very early which I think helped us at least have an organisational structure to be able to go man for man, to get tight.

“There were even things wrong in that which needed us to get to half-time to have a biblical team-talk to get us going. I think the boys delivered that in the second half.”

Asked how he feels after seeing his side score three crucial stoppage-time goals, Johnson said: “Listen, if I’m honest, I am not happy (with the start to the season).

“We need to do more. I am not going to sugar-coat where we are, we’ve got spirit and fitness but I want to deliver to these fans high-tempo, front-foot football.

“In the first half we didn’t and in the second half we did. We need a complete performance.”

Johnson felt Rangers’ first-half penalty, scored by James Tavernier, was a soft award when compared with the spot-kick Hibs did not get as Rocky Bushiri appeared to be held by Tavernier.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty and I thought Bushiri should have had a penalty,” he said.

“If there’s VAR, I think Rangers’ penalty is 50-50; I think the one where Bushiri got dragged down in the first half is probably 85-15.”

Lundstram was sent off for a cynical trip on Martin Boyle, while substitute Alfredo Morelos saw red for swinging an arm at Marijan Cabraja.

Johnson felt Lundstram’s red was “probably a yellow, a tactical foul”, while he has “no idea” whether Morelos would have been sent off if VAR had reviewed it.

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits his side – in the middle of a crucial Champions League play-off against PSV Eindhoven – were always going to be up against it after going down to nine men.

“I think John was harsh to get the red card,” he told Sky Sports.

“I think it was a foul but I think he didn’t have any intention to hit him hard so I was surprised he gave the red card. We have to look into it in this one.

“Second red card, I haven’t seen it back. We have to clearly see what happened there. After the two decisions we were with nine men so for us, especially when we had the ball, it was very difficult for us to keep the ball.

“We almost succeeded in getting the three points but in injury time they fell in the right position to score the equaliser.” 

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