Scottish Premiership
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Aberdeen 1-2 Rangers: Alfredo Morelos double earns win for Steven Gerrard's side

By Andrew SouthwickBBC Scotland

Rangers are now 22 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after Alfredo Morelos' double was enough to beat 10-man Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Steven Gerrard's side made it 15 league wins in a row as they bid to win a first top-flight title since 2011 and deny Celtic 10 championships in a row.

James Tavernier missed a penalty after Ryan Hedges was sent off, then Morelos scored either side of half-time.

Kennedy did pull one back for Aberdeen as they improved late on.

But Derek McInnes' side's six-game unbeaten run came to an end as they failed to narrow the gap on second-place Celtic.

Rangers, without a league loss all season and fresh from an Old Firm victory over Celtic, knew taking three points on Sunday would take them another step closer to the title.

And while Gerrard had suffered three defeats against Aberdeen, he had yet to lose at Pittodrie.

Between them, Rangers' Morelos and Aberdeen's Sam Cosgrove netted 52 times last season.

This term, their clinical edge has often deserted them, and in the early minutes the pair passed up golden opportunities - getting ahead of their markers to long balls but failing to test the goalkeeper.

While Rangers were not getting everything their own way, they were still making the better chances. Ianis Hagi whistled over, Ryan Kent's free shot inside the box was cleared off the line by Jonny Hayes, and Joe Lewis denied Tavernier.

Aberdeen were repelling what was being thrown at them, but then they were down to 10 men before the half hour.

Hedges nicked the legs of Morelos in the box, sending him hurtling to the ground as he bore down on goal and referee John Beaton awarded the penalty and issued a red card. Tavernier, who had previously scored 10 times against Aberdeen, this time sent his spot-kick wide.

However, it was just a momentary let-off for the home side before Morelos collected a short ball, took a neat first touch, turned and fired low into the net.

Curtis Main was fortunate to escape a red card shortly afterwards when he took out Rangers' Borna Barisic with his studs up. He received just a yellow, but his afternoon was over moments later when manager McInnes hauled him off.

It already looked like damage limitation for Aberdeen, and shortly after half-time it was 2-0. Another well-worked move allowed Morelos to latch on to a Kent backheel and smash the ball low into the net.

Kent and Hayes forced saves at both ends but, as the game looked to be comfortable for the visitors, Aberdeen pulled one back when Hayes raced at the defence and cut across to Kennedy, who finished low past Allan McGregor.

As time ticked on, Rangers looked tired - despite the extra man - and Aberdeen were getting more of the ball but could not hurt the visitors. And the best chance of the final stages fell to Rangers when Glen Kamara broke into the box and Lewis had to block his near-post shot.

Man of the match - Alfredo Morelos

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos
After just one goal since November, Morelos looked far sharper in the Rangers attack, pouncing twice inside the box

What did we learn?

McInnes had demanded more of a performance from Aberdeen than the previous two limp showings against Rangers this season, and for 20 minutes they certainly showed more aggression.

But after the red card it looked like game over and the hosts struggled to find any sort of shape as they were moved all over the place. But they rallied late on and made it a nervy ending for Gerrard's side.

Kent and Morelos have struggled for form in recent weeks, but both stepped up as Rangers took full advantage of the extra man.

What did they say?

Aberdeen: Derek McInnes defends Curtis Main challenge

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: "Ryan has done everything not to bring him down. You would think that would have some bearing on the decision. But [referee] John Beaton explained to me at half-time he had nowhere to go with the decision.

"I said to my staff 'we'll find out a lot about my team in the second half' because the last team you want to go a man down to is Rangers. I thought the players were excellent."

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "I thought we were excellent up until 2-0. At 2-0, we changed our mentality and mindset. We were making passes and decisions we didn't need to make.

"I'm looking for more leadership on the pitch. There's a lot of things we need to look at, but to take nine from nine from Aberdeen is a big effort from the boys."

What's next?

Aberdeen travel to Livingston on Wednesday for their rearranged Scottish Premiership match (19:45 GMT kick-off). Rangers are not in action until Sunday, when they travel to Motherwell (12:00).

Line-ups

Aberdeen

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Lewis
  • 3Hoban
  • 14TaylorSubstituted forEdmondsonat 89'minutes
  • 4Considine
  • 11HedgesBooked at 26mins
  • 24Campbell
  • 19FergusonBooked at 81mins
  • 17Hayes
  • 25WrightSubstituted forKennedyat 58'minutes
  • 9MainBooked at 41minsSubstituted forLoganat 44'minutes
  • 16Cosgrove

Substitutes

  • 2Logan
  • 8Ojo
  • 10McGinn
  • 21Anderson
  • 26Virtanen
  • 32Edmondson
  • 33Kennedy
  • 37Ngwenya
  • 43Woods

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2TavernierBooked at 40mins
  • 6Goldson
  • 26Balogun
  • 31Barisic
  • 17Aribo
  • 10Davis
  • 18Kamara
  • 7HagiSubstituted forZunguat 82'minutes
  • 20Morelos
  • 14Kent

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 5Helander
  • 9Defoe
  • 11Itten
  • 15Zungu
  • 16Patterson
  • 21Barker
  • 24Stewart
  • 33McLaughlin
Referee:
John Beaton

Match Stats

Home TeamAberdeenAway TeamRangers
Possession
Home21%
Away79%
Shots
Home4
Away17
Shots on Target
Home2
Away7
Corners
Home1
Away6
Fouls
Home19
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Aberdeen 1, Rangers 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Aberdeen 1, Rangers 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Alfredo Morelos (Rangers).

  4. Post update

    Shay Logan (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Sam Cosgrove (Aberdeen).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Aberdeen. Ryan Edmondson replaces Ash Taylor.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Ash Taylor.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Glen Kamara (Rangers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  10. Post update

    Hand ball by James Tavernier (Rangers).

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Bongani Zungu replaces Ianis Hagi.

  12. Booking

    Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Ryan Kent (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).

  15. Post update

    Glen Kamara (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).

  17. Post update

    Leon Balogun (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Sam Cosgrove (Aberdeen).

  19. Goal!

    Goal! Aberdeen 1, Rangers 2. Matthew Kennedy (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jonny Hayes following a fast break.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Ash Taylor.

Player of the match

MorelosAlfredo Morelos

with an average of 7.04

Aberdeen

  1. Squad number25Player nameWright
    Average rating

    5.77

  2. Squad number33Player nameKennedy
    Average rating

    5.70

  3. Squad number1Player nameLewis
    Average rating

    5.67

  4. Squad number4Player nameConsidine
    Average rating

    5.42

  5. Squad number17Player nameHayes
    Average rating

    5.41

  6. Squad number14Player nameTaylor
    Average rating

    5.33

  7. Squad number3Player nameHoban
    Average rating

    5.30

  8. Squad number19Player nameFerguson
    Average rating

    5.28

  9. Squad number24Player nameCampbell
    Average rating

    5.03

  10. Squad number16Player nameCosgrove
    Average rating

    5.02

  11. Squad number2Player nameLogan
    Average rating

    4.84

  12. Squad number11Player nameHedges
    Average rating

    4.74

  13. Squad number9Player nameMain
    Average rating

    4.58

  14. Squad number32Player nameEdmondson
    Average rating

    4.18

Rangers

  1. Squad number20Player nameMorelos
    Average rating

    7.04

  2. Squad number14Player nameKent
    Average rating

    6.88

  3. Squad number10Player nameDavis
    Average rating

    6.51

  4. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor
    Average rating

    6.49

  5. Squad number7Player nameHagi
    Average rating

    6.46

  6. Squad number18Player nameKamara
    Average rating

    6.38

  7. Squad number31Player nameBarisic
    Average rating

    6.29

  8. Squad number26Player nameBalogun
    Average rating

    6.29

  9. Squad number17Player nameAribo
    Average rating

    6.25

  10. Squad number6Player nameGoldson
    Average rating

    6.24

  11. Squad number2Player nameTavernier
    Average rating

    6.07

  12. Squad number15Player nameZungu
    Average rating

    5.91

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers2321205965365
2Celtic19134245153043
3Aberdeen2111642820839
4Hibernian2210663023736
5Livingston219392827130
6Dundee Utd226881727-1026
7Kilmarnock2273122426-224
8St Mirren206591623-723
9St Johnstone2247111931-1219
10Motherwell2146111832-1418
11Hamilton2253142147-2618
12Ross County2345141442-2817
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