Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers: Ross McCrorie keeps Gers in hunt for second
Last Updated: 08/05/18 10:32pm
Rangers stayed in the hunt for second place in the Scottish Premiership after coming from behind to draw 1-1 against rivals Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Kenny McLean - leaving for Norwich in the summer - converted a controversial early penalty (14) to set the hosts on course for a victory that would have secured European football for a fifth successive season, as well as ensuring they would finish above Rangers for the fourth time in a row.
But Rangers struck back in the second half of a bruising encounter when Ross McCrorie (63) pounced on a poor defensive clearance to seal a point that takes the race to finish runners-up to Celtic to the final afternoon.
Hibernian can draw level on points with third-placed Rangers if they beat Hearts in Wednesday's Edinburgh derby, but the Ibrox side - who themselves face Hibs on the last day - will hope fierce foes Celtic can do them a favour against Derek McInnes' men.
Rangers, who have a healthier goal difference than Hibs, had won all three previous league meetings and started with authority again, Daniel Candeias an early threat down the right and Alfredo Morelos set free by a clever reverse ball from Graham Dorrans, only to scuff his shot.
The hosts had barely threatened but they were given a unexpected foothold with a dubiously-awarded penalty, Morelos the fall-guy in the other box when he was adjudged to have felled McLean in a challenge for a ball that looked fairly contended.
McLean sent Jak Alnwick the wrong way with his left foot and Aberdeen were emboldened, the goalscorer clattering the crossbar from range on the half-hour before shaping for a volley with which he failed to properly connect.
Rangers lost further momentum when Dorrans was forced off through injury and they lost discipline as the half drew to a close, Jason Holt booked for clattering into Dominic Ball but Sean Goss escaping punishment for a similarly meaty challenge on Graeme Shinnie.
The visitors returned with fresh appetite but Morelos was found lacking at key moments in front of goal, shanking into the stands from an angle and then, when James Tavernier swung in invitingly, heading straight at Alnwick from close-range.
It had been a tough night for the Colombian - his late booking for a shove on Shay Logan taking the game's haul to nine - but he played a pivotal role in the equaliser when he cut inside and curled goalwards. Scott McKenna could only repel the ball high into the air and McCrorie rose highest to nod into the bottom corner.
Jason Cummings, introduced for Jason Holt moments before the leveller, dithered on a smart Candeias through-ball, while Greg Stewart swiped wildly at Stevie May's cutback, but late chances came and went to ensure the scrap behind Brendan Rodgers' champions goes to the wire.