Scottish Premiership
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Rangers 2-2 Aberdeen: Emotional Walter Smith tributes 'no excuse' - Steven Gerrard

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland

Steven Gerrard refused to use the emotion around Walter Smith's death as an excuse for Rangers having to come from two goals behind to hold Aberdeen.

The home manager had urged his Premiership leaders to give a display worthy of their legendary former boss.

But he needed an Alfredo Morelos header and contentious James Tavernier penalty to cancel out early goals from Christian Ramirez and Scott Brown.

"There will be no excuses at all," Gerrard said.

"I think, of course, the last 24, 48 hours have been tough for everyone connected with the club - and not just people at Rangers. There was a lot of that we didn't recognise as a staff and we need to fix a few things."

The draw ensured Rangers are now unbeaten in nine meetings between the sides but have had their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership reduced to two points, with city rivals Celtic now their nearest challengers.

A steady stream of wreaths, scarves and jerseys had built up into a mountain of tributes outside the gates of Smith's beloved Ibrox since Rangers announced the sad news little more than 24 hours earlier.

The quiet contemplation, tears and grief of those emotions spilled over into tumultuous welcome for their present-day favourites as they unfurled flags and banners lauding the Rangers icon ahead of kick-off before descending again into a respectful hush for the minute's silence.

The immediacy of the loss led Gerrard to leave goalkeeper Allan McGregor and midfielder Steven Davis on the bench, with the veteran duo having played under Smith.

Those that did start looked fired up by the occasion and Calvin Bassey immediately weaved his way into the box before forcing goalkeeper Joe Lewis to beat away his shot at the near post.

However, Aberdeen made the hosts pay for a lapse of concentration in defence and unmarked striker Ramirez headed in Ryan Hedges' cross at the back post.

Rangers threatened an immediate reply against a makeshift defence with Brown at its heart, but it was the former Celtic captain who struck next, evading marker Tavernier to send a diving header home from a corner.

This time, Rangers' response did produce a goal, captain Tavernier making up for his defensive lapse by sending in a curling free-kick that found the forehead of striker Morelos.

The second half was almost totally dominated by the home side but they were looking increasingly frustrated until former Ibrox centre-half David Bates was adjudged to have nudged into the back of substitute Fashion Sakala and right-back Tavernier was his usually accurate self from the spot.

Rangers fans had unfurled a flag declaring "for deeds done and glories won, thank you", but even their late managerial great would have been satisfied to escape with a point in such testing circumstances.

Man of the match - Scott Brown

Aberdeen celebrate
The Aberdeen captain (centre) not only scored but was a rock at the heart of the defence after being moved back from midfield

What did we learn?

It is difficult to make judgements given this was a one-off occasion but Rangers continue to look more vulnerable than they were in striding imperiously to the title last season.

They avoided their first home league defeat since March 2020, a still impressive 25-game run. But, after a sequence of 21 wins, they have shed points in three of their past four Premiership outings at Ibrox and must now be looking worryingly over their shoulder at improving Celtic.

In contrast, Aberdeen appear to have turned their fortunes around, building on last weekend's first victory in 10 games with a draw that again showed the battling qualities exemplified by captain Brown.

They even managed - twice - to do what they had failed to do on five previous visits and find the net at Ibrox.

What they said

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told RangersTV: "Disappointed with the result, disappointed with the performance. Obviously gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

"We managed to take something from the game but the performance was not good enough and that's on me. Tonight, we forgot what we're about and what we do and I need to fix that."

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass: "They are a really good team with really good players, so to get undone by a free-kick that doesn't look like a free-kick and a penalty that doesn't look like a penalty, I think that's good for us.

"The boys put in a performance like that, the work-rate, effort and Rangers have a brilliant group of players, but we get undone with that and it is very disappointing."

What's next?

Aberdeen host Hearts on Saturday (15:00 BST) before Rangers visit Motherwell on Sunday (12:00 GMT).

Player of the match

BrownScott Brown

with an average of 8.64

Rangers

  1. Squad number20Player nameMorelos
    Average rating

    4.01

  2. Squad number33Player nameMcLaughlin
    Average rating

    3.93

  3. Squad number25Player nameRoofe
    Average rating

    3.86

  4. Squad number7Player nameHagi
    Average rating

    3.85

  5. Squad number2Player nameTavernier
    Average rating

    3.82

  6. Squad number37Player nameArfield
    Average rating

    3.76

  7. Squad number26Player nameBalogun
    Average rating

    3.72

  8. Squad number17Player nameAribo
    Average rating

    3.72

  9. Squad number3Player nameBassey
    Average rating

    3.66

  10. Squad number18Player nameKamara
    Average rating

    3.64

  11. Squad number6Player nameGoldson
    Average rating

    3.63

  12. Squad number23Player nameWright
    Average rating

    3.61

  13. Squad number30Player nameSakala
    Average rating

    3.54

  14. Squad number4Player nameLundstram
    Average rating

    3.11

Aberdeen

  1. Squad number8Player nameBrown
    Average rating

    8.64

  2. Squad number17Player nameHayes
    Average rating

    8.24

  3. Squad number9Player nameRamírez
    Average rating

    8.21

  4. Squad number15Player nameMcGeouch
    Average rating

    8.04

  5. Squad number11Player nameHedges
    Average rating

    7.95

  6. Squad number24Player nameCampbell
    Average rating

    7.87

  7. Squad number2Player nameMcCrorie
    Average rating

    7.86

  8. Squad number7Player nameWatkins
    Average rating

    7.83

  9. Squad number19Player nameFerguson
    Average rating

    7.81

  10. Squad number1Player nameLewis
    Average rating

    7.74

  11. Squad number16Player nameOjo
    Average rating

    7.70

  12. Squad number27Player nameBates
    Average rating

    7.57

  13. Squad number23Player nameSamuels
    Average rating

    7.21

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 33McLaughlin
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 26Balogun
  • 3Bassey
  • 17AriboSubstituted forWrightat 77'minutes
  • 4LundstramSubstituted forArfieldat 61'minutes
  • 18Kamara
  • 25RoofeSubstituted forSakalaat 77'minutes
  • 20MorelosBooked at 90mins
  • 7Hagi

Substitutes

  • 1McGregor
  • 10Davis
  • 15Simpson
  • 16Patterson
  • 23Wright
  • 30Sakala
  • 37Arfield

Aberdeen

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1LewisBooked at 86mins
  • 16OjoBooked at 22mins
  • 27BatesBooked at 81mins
  • 8Brown
  • 2McCrorie
  • 24Campbell
  • 17HayesSubstituted forSamuelsat 90+5'minutes
  • 19FergusonBooked at 21mins
  • 15McGeouch
  • 11Hedges
  • 9RamírezSubstituted forWatkinsat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Watkins
  • 10McGinn
  • 14Emmanuel-Thomas
  • 21Gurr
  • 23Samuels
  • 25Woods
  • 44M Longstaff
Referee:
John Beaton
Attendance:
49,760

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamAberdeen
Possession
Home62%
Away38%
Shots
Home18
Away6
Shots on Target
Home4
Away3
Corners
Home14
Away2
Fouls
Home12
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 2, Aberdeen 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 2, Aberdeen 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Fashion Sakala (Rangers).

  4. Post update

    Funso Ojo (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Aberdeen. Austin Samuels replaces Jonny Hayes because of an injury.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ryan Hedges (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jonny Hayes.

  7. Booking

    Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) is shown the yellow card.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Ianis Hagi (Rangers).

  9. Post update

    Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Scott Arfield (Rangers).

  11. Post update

    Ryan Hedges (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Marley Watkins (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Dean Campbell with a cross following a set piece situation.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Connor Goldson (Rangers).

  14. Post update

    Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Lewis Ferguson.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by David Bates.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Leon Balogun (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross.

  18. Booking

    Joe Lewis (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by David Bates.

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Scott Arfield (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott Wright with a cross.

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