HAT-TRICK hero Jamie Maclaren’s stoppage-time equaliser denied Rangers a famous comeback triumph in a breathless 5-5 draw at Easter Road.
Gers looked like they were set to be blown away as Florian Kamberi, Scott Allan and Maclaren put Hibs 3-0 up after a 22-minute blitz.
That left the hosts needing just three more goals to steal third place from the Ibrox men on a final day packed with drama.
But the Light Blues mounted a stunning fightback with strikes from James Tavernier, Jordan Rossiter, Bruno Alves and Jason Holt and Josh Windass.
However, another Maclaren goal sent Gers’ nerves jangling and with Jimmy Nicholl’s men down to 10 after seeing Holt sent-off late on, Hibs’ on-loan Darmstadt frontman prodded home at the death to the relief of the Hibs faithful.
Gers had to better Aberdeen’s result at Celtic Park to claim second spot but it is the Dons who finish runners-up after a 1-0 win in Glasgow.
Neil Lennon was back in the Hibs dug-out after his midweek threat to quit – and he looked far happier at full-time after racing on to the pitch to celebrate Maclaren’s incredible leveller.
It took just nine minutes for the fireworks to spark as referee Andrew Dallas spotted David Bates’ off-the-ball tug on Maclaren inside the box.
Kamberi lashed the spot-kick home to give the hosts the perfect start.
Things got even better 10 minutes later as Lewis Stevenson’s deep cross found Slivka, who nodded down for the on-rushing Allan to bundle home.
And Stevenson turned provider again on 22 minutes as the hosts incredibly found themselves 3-0 up.
Russell Martin has three inches on Maclaren but was caught flat-footed as the Australian leapt to glance home.
But the Ibrox men finally got their act together and hit back two minutes later. Tavernier drove down the inside-right channel before spotting Holt on the overlap.
The Gers skipper followed his team-mate into the box before tucking home Holt’s cut back.
Rangers’ forgotten man Rossiter – making his first start since August – then slotted home after Jamie Murphy picked out his run in behind Stevenson as the visitors started to believe in themselves.
And they squared it up four minutes before the break as Rangers completed a remarkable recovery when Alves – thrown on for Goss as Nicholl switched to three at the back – swept home a stunning free-kick after Efe Amrbose illegally halted a Murphy charge.
But the thrills and spills did not let up after the break.
Allan jumped out of the way as Tavernier slid in and that allowed the Light Blues skipper to release Jason Cummings in behind. Ambrose did well to hold up the former Leith hitman but Murphy had the vision to find Holt in space as the ex-Hearts man swept home Gers’ fourth.
Substitute Windass put Gers two in front on 68 minutes as a Holt shot broke off his hip and wrong-footed Ofir Marciano.
But Maclaren fired fresh life into Hibs’ cause two minutes later as he pulled one back after being slotted in by Slivka.
Holt got his marching orders five minutes from time after picking up a second yellow and with a man advantage, Hibs made it count as Maclaren bundled home after fine work by Kambari.