The Dons were denied a second win over Rangers this season, a late penalty awarded by VAR rescuing the visitors after Aberdeen excelled in attack in the first half and then produced a dogged defensive display in the second half to keep them out in open play.
There were three changes to the Aberdeen side beaten at Parkhead before the break, Jamie McGrath and Ryan Duncan returning, Ester Sokler getting his first Aberdeen start, replacing Jonny Hayes and Dante Polvara, who were on the bench, and the injured Jack MacKenzie. James McGarry also returned to the Dons’ matchday 20 after injury.
After winning 2-0 at Livingston two weeks ago, there were three changes to the Rangers XI, Danilo, Todd Cantwell and Jose Cifuentes replacing Ryan Jack, Ross McCausland and Cyriel Dessers.
It was a good start from the Dons, Leighton Clarkson’s free-kick from deep on the right after two minutes finding Slobodan Rube i 15 yards out. He got a clean header on it, Butland down to his left to make a scooping save.
Sokler had a golden opportunity on four minutes. Nicky Devlin started the move with a crunching tackle in his own half, Clarkson collecting the loose ball and threading a pass through the Rangers defence to get Sokler clean through. Advancing on goal and accelerating beyond the chasing defenders, he took his shot early, some 20 yards out, looking to shape the ball into the far corner, only for Butland to make a brilliant save with his left foot as the ball looked to be beyond him.
Rangers were on the attack three minutes later, Lawrence stepping inside and spearing a shot towards the bottom corner, Kelle Roos at full stretch to not only save, but divert the ball away from the oncoming Cantwell, Duncan clearing up.
Bojan Miovski gave the Dons a deserved lead on 11 minutes, a beautifully constructed goal that flew from back to front. From his penalty area, Roos pinged a precise 70 yard pass onto Sokler’s head in the centre circle. He guided the ball into Miovski’s run, the striker darting away from his marker and producing a devastating left footed finish, first time into the bottom corner, Butland given no chance to save.
It was all part of a high octane opening to the game from Aberdeen that had Rangers chasing shadows, such that on 23 minutes Cantwell produced an outrageous dive to try to earn a penalty which somehow did not attract a yellow card. A minute later, Duncan was wasteful with the ball, allowing Cantwell to get in behind and drill a low cross through the six-yard box where thankfully, there were no takers.
Rangers were getting back into things now though, Danilo wriggling into space on 28 minutes and clipping a low shot goalwards, Roos doing well to kick the ball to safety. They then won a dubious corner on 29 minutes when Roos was adjudged to have turned a cross behind that had clearly hit the post. From it, Roos had to make a terrific reflex save from a Balogun header.
The Dons were back at it on 38 though. After Sokler had chased Butland down as he tried to clear, Aberdeen won the ball back and a ball across the top of the area sat up nicely for McGrath who unleashed a snapshot that forced Butland into sharp action to his right.
Richard Jensen took a sore one five minutes later as he dispossessed Danilo on the edge of the area only for the Rangers striker’s arm to thump into his face. Lengthy treatment, and remedial work to the nose was required, before he was able to continue.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 1 RANGERS 0
The opening action of the second half was to see Jensen cautioned as he slipped in making a challenge on Cantwell in the 47th minute. Three minutes later, Roos had to get his angles right to block a shot from Danilo who got behind the defence and fired at goal from a tight angle.
A neat one-two on halfway between Miovski and Graeme Shinnie almost had Aberdeen away on 56 minutes before Miovski was ultimately crowded out, but again, Rangers looked short on pace at the back. McGrath was booked a minute later for a lunge on Cantwell 22 yards out. Tavernier bypassed a three man Rangers wall but stuck the ball straight into Aberdeen’s version. Moments later, Rube i gave away another free-kick right on the edge of the box, Barisic’s effort flicking up off the Dons’ wall and over. With Rangers beginning to dominate possession, on 67, Duncan was replaced by McGarry. Three minutes later, Polvara replaced Sokler. The visitors made their first change with Matondo coming on for Sima.
Rangers were close to an equaliser on 73, Lawrence crashing a looping drive against the bar from 25 yards out with the Glasgow side starting to lay siege to Aberdeen’s goal. Two minutes later, it was the bar that came to the Dons’ rescue once more, Balogun smacking his header against the bar from six yards out after Tavernier picked him out from a corner. On 78, Cantwell and Lawrence made way for Lammers and McCausland, Duk then replacing Miovski as we headed into the final 10 minutes of normal time.
Rangers continued to press, but opportunities were thankfully slow in coming for them, Barisic cutting inside to fire well wide on 85 minutes. Polvara then went down injured, but fortunately, he was ok to continue, Aberdeen having made all their substitutions.
Heading into the final minute of the 90, Rangers won a corner on their left, keeping Aberdeen penned in before Lammers took a wild swing from a dozen yards out and lifted his shot into the RDS. The game was stopped for a VAR check on the corner, Gartenmann with a slight tug on Goldson. Two minutes later, a penalty was awarded and Gartenmann booked. Tavernier buried the ball into the net, straight down the middle, for 1-1.
Rangers might have won it a minute later, Matondo sprinting away down their left and crossing for Lammers who from six yards out, put his header straight at Roos.
4 minutes added at end 1st half.
6 minutes added at end 2nd half.