Rangers extended their lead in the SPFL to 22 points after a double from Alfredo Morelos secured a vital win at Pittodrie.
On an afternoon when Celtic’s folly in travelling to Dubai was confirmed, with the club announcing that at least one player has returned a positive test for Covid-19, Rangers put on a professional display to extend their lead further on the SPFL and take another step to securing their first league win since 2011.
Steven Gerrard named one change from the eleven which started in the win over Celtic last Saturday, with Ianis Hagi coming in to replace the injured Kemar Roofe.
Aberdeen made three changes from their goalless draw with Dundee United, the main one being on-loan Ranger Ross McCrorie, ineligible for selection against his parent club, who was replaced by Dean Campbell.
Rangers won fairly comfortably at Pittodrie on the opening day of the season in a game which lacked any real highlights. The same could not be said of today’s encounter.
Within 20 seconds Rangers should have been ahead after a mistake by Ash Taylor put Alfredo Morelos in on goal. The Columbian, who has struggled in front of goal this season, finished weakly and the chance was gone.
A minute later Aberdeen then had a chance when a mix up in the Rangers defence allowed Sam Cosgrove to run in on goal. Connor Goldson managed to force the big striker wide, and he had to settle for shooting high and wide.
Then on seven minutes Hagi unleashed a shot from outside the box which dipped just over the bar.
Rangers were slowly asserting themselves on the game when they created their best opportunity through Ryan Kent.
Barisic crossed into the box for Hagi to flick on. Kent set himself, beat his man and fired past Joe Lewis, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Jonny Hayes. The rebound found its way to Tavernier who unleashed a shot, only to see it saved by Lewis.
Then Rangers had a great opportunity to take the lead thanks to a penalty after Morelos was fouled in the box.
The Columbian played a great one-two with Joe Aribo, and was running in on goal when Hedges clipped his heels and brought him down. It would be Hedges last involvement in the game as referee Beaton viewed the incident as a denying a goal-scoring opportunity and produced a red card. Tavernier stepped up, but fired the spot-kick wide.
That miss was only denying the inevitable, however, and Rangers took the lead on 32 minutes thanks to a great goal from Alfredo Morelos.
Steve Davis played the ball to Tavernier who done well to beat his man and play it into Ryan Kent. Kent played a great ball into Morelos, who turned fired a great shot past Joe Lewis.
The lead was the very least Rangers deserved after an excellent period of dominating possession and imposing themselves on the game.
Aberdeen were extremely lucky not to be reduced to nine men after a shocking tackle by Curtis Main on Borna Barisic. Referee Beaton bizarrely viewed it as a yellow card. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes took advantage of Beaton’s leniency and immediately took Curtis off and replaced him with Shane Logan just before the half-time break.
Rangers wasted no time in the second-half in increasing their lead when Morelos scored again on 50 minutes – his 10th goal of the season.
Some neat work from Rangers put Aribo in a good position running into the box. He placed a good ball into a dangerous area which was flicked on by Kent to Morelos, who took a touch before firing home his second of the game.
Rangers then nearly went 3-0 ahead when Joe Lewis made a great save from Ryan Kent, who hit a great shot from outside the box.
With Aberdeen down to ten and Rangers displaying some of their early season swagger, it seemed like a long way back for the Dons.
However Aberdeen came close on 56 minutes to reducing the deficit when Jonny Hayes pulled a great save from McGregor after a quick free-kick caught the Rangers defence napping.
Rangers failed to take heed of the warning, however, and Aberdeen pulled one back in the 66th minute when Matty Kennedy scored after a well-worked goal. Cosgrove put Jonny Hayes through who slipped the ball into Kennedy who finished well.
Ryan Kent then had a chance to finish the game but opted to pass the ball when it was probably a better to take the shot on himself.
Kamara then had a had good chance to score after a neat one-two with Morelos put him through on goal, only to see Joe Lewis save his effort.
The win puts Rangers in a commanding position and Rangers’ manager Steven Gerrard was delighted with the win stating: “We’re very pleased with the result, obviously. We said before the game it would be a tough game.
“I thought we were excellent until 2-0. I was really pleased with us in possession, the chances we were creating were very good. But at 2-0 we changed our mentality and our mindset.
“There’s a lot of things we need to look at within the performance and the result. But to take nine-from-nine from Aberdeen is a big effort from the boys”.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Considine, Hoban, Taylor, Hayes, Hedges, Campbell, Ferguson, Wright, Main, Cosgrove.
SUBS: Woods, Logan, Ojo, Kennedy, Anderson, Virtanen, Edmondson, McGinn, Ngwenya.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Davis, Kamara, Aribo; Hagi, Kent, Morelos.
SUBS: McLaughlin, Bassey, Helander, Defoe, Itten, Zungu, Patterson, Barker, Stewart.
REFEREE: John Beaton
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