Rangers today followed up their impressive victory on Wednesday night by winning yet again against Aberdeen. The 2-1 victory at Pittodrie was earned through a lot of hard work, and a decent amount of skill. There were more than a few good performers yet again, and even the red card to Ryan Jack didn’t prevent Rangers taking the 3 points.
The starting side contained only one change from the midweek fixture, with David Bates replacing Bruno Alves in defence. Aberdeen made a number of changes, and started the match with both May and Rooney playing, which they haven’t done often this season.
Rangers started with an intent that mirrored the previous game. Windass won a corner in the first minute, and his drilled ball to the near post caused a bit of trouble as Miller tried to flick the ball on. Windass was involved in the next real chance, as he picked up a long ball from Wilson behind the Aberdeen defence. Under a bit of pressure, he took a heavy touch around the keeper, then dived to try and win the penalty. He was deservedly booked by Willie Collum.
The game was constantly disrupted by the referee’s whistle as both sides were determined to win the physical battle. It was from one of those free-kicks that Rangers took the lead on 14 minutes.
Declan John swung in a cross from deep, and Wilson managed to find space near the 18 yard line. His header was excellently placed in the far top corner, leaving the goalkeeper no chance.
Adam Rooney, who has never scored against Rangers, had a chance with a header, but didn’t connect well. Rangers were starting to dominate possession and find gaps in front of the Aberdeen defence. Carlos Pena was particularly adept at this, and a driving run from him ended with the ball breaking to Josh Windass. His low shot from distance was well saved by Joe Lewis.
As had been the theme of the game, the rest of the first half was scrappy and filled with free-kicks. In the last minute of the half, though, Rangers had a real let-off. Jason Holt fouled Greg Stewart on the angle of the box. The midfielder took the set-piece, swinging in a great ball near post that Considine beat Wilson to. The ball rebounded off the bar, and was eventually cleared.
In that challenge, Wilson took a knock, so was replaced at half-time by Fabio Cardoso. The pattern of the game didn’t change much to begin with, and Rangers created the first real chance. A delightful through ball by Carlos Pena sent Miller away, and on the angle he lashed a left-shooted shot towards goal. Joe Lewis done well to get an arm to it and put it over the bar.
Not long after that chance, the momentum of the game changed. Ryan Jack went into a challenge with Stevie May that resulted in a red card for the Rangers midfielder. Whilst it’s clear he won the ball, it’s difficult to say if the nature of the challenge was reckless or endangered the Aberdeen player. Stevie May didn’t do himself any favours by not going in strongly, but there’s an argument that Jack went in too heavily. In truth, I’m undecided on the decision and whether or not it was correct.
Regardless, Rangers were down to 10 men, and instantly made a change, bringing on Candeias for Pena. That proved to be a great substitution as the Portuguese wide player set up the second goal.
A great ball from defence by Tavernier allowed him to play Candeias through on the right wing. He took a touch and played an early low ball in behind the defence. From the left, Windass had made a great run into the box, and he finished well with his right foot. Given the sending off, it was a great moment for the team and fans.
Unfortunately, Rangers were unable to hold the 2 goal lead for long. Only 2 minutes later, Aberdeen won a free kick which Frank Ross curled into the top corner. Foderingham seemed to get a decent hand to it, but it went through him. He’ll be disappointed not to have done better.
From there, Aberdeen had most of the ball and tried to put pressure on the defence, but the only shot on target they had was a Greg Stewart effort which Cardoso deflected wide. He celebrated that like he’d scored a goal himself.
Rangers managed to see out the win, which was deserved for the first half performance and sheer desire after the red card. If this is to be Murty’s send-off, it was a very good one.
Man of the match was given to Bates, but personally I felt Tavernier edged it. Yet again, there were no real poor performances from the team.
Rangers now look forward to a home game against Ross County, a real chance to finally get that third win in a row. Now sitting in second place, a chance for some momentum under what looks likely to be a new manager will be key.
We really weren’t supposed to take 6 points from these games. It’s a testament to the ability and desire of the squad that they were able to perform as well as they did. If it’s the case that the next manager will bring more out of our players, we have good reason for optimism.