By James Kilpatrick
Aberdeen 2-4 Rangers: Alfredo Morelos scores twice and sees red in heated contest
Alfredo Morelos and Scott McKenna both see red after ugly tussle at Pittodrie
Last Updated: 07/02/19 7:50am
Rangers moved five points clear of Aberdeen in second after a 4-2 Scottish Premiership win at Pittodrie which saw Alfredo Morelos and Scott McKenna receive red cards.
Morelos scored twice in the first half (20 and 38) on Wednesday night - either side of Sam Cosgrove's tap-in (31) - before James Tavernier made it 3-1 before half-time (43) with Rangers' fifth penalty in their last one-and-a-half matches.
Cosgrove converted from the spot for the hosts shortly after half-time (47), before Morelos was involved in an ugly tussle with McKenna in the 53rd minute which saw both players get dismissed for lashing out.
Even though both sides played most of the second half with 10 men, Rangers secured an important victory as substitute Jermain Defoe added a fourth goal in injury time (90+4).
Aberdeen: Lewis (6), Logan (6), Hoban (6), Considine (6), McKenna (4), Lowe (5), Stewart (6), Ferguson (7), Shinnie (6), Mackay-Steven (7), Cosgrove (7)
Subs: Wilson (6), McGinn (N/A)
Rangers:McGregor (7), Tavernier (8), Worrall (7), Goldson (6), Barisic (6), McCrorie (6), Jack (6), Arfield (6), Candeias (6), Kent (7), Morelos (7)
Subs: Defoe (7), Katic (N/A), Coulibaly (N/A)
Man of the match: James Tavernier
The result means Rangers remain six points behind Celtic, who beat Hibernian 2-0, while Aberdeen remain in third on 46 points - level on points with fourth-placed Kilmarnock.
Rangers got off to a fast start and grabbed the initiative through Morelos with his 22nd goal of the season. Ryan Kent unleashed a powerful strike from the edge of the box which was parried by Joe Lewis straight into Morelos' path to tap in from close range.
But it did not take long for Aberdeen to respond through their top scorer, Cosgrove, who tapped in from close range after Lewis Ferguson's half-volley deflected straight to him.
Seven minutes later, Morelos grabbed his second of the night as he casually stroked the ball into the bottom corner to put Rangers back in front.
Scott McKenna came in to defence with Stevie May dropping out.
Jermain Defoe dropped to the bench as Daniel Candeias came into the front three. Nikola Katic was replaced by Connor Goldson and Ryan Jack took the place of Steven Davis.
With just two minutes left of the first half, Rangers opened up some breathing space as McKenna clumsily handled in the box before Tavernier converted his spot-kick, despite Lewis getting a hand to it.
Just moments into the second half and Aberdeen pulled a goal back through Cosgrove who slotted his penalty down the middle after Ferguson was hauled down by Tavernier.
The match took an ugly twist when McKenna and Morelos were involved in a double sending off. Morelos appeared to stamp on the McKenna before the Aberdeen defender aimed a kick at the Colombia international towards the face.
With both teams down to 10 men, Aberdeen pushed hard for an equaliser which they nearly found in the 87th minute, but Stewart's drilled, deflected strike was batted away by Allan McGregor. And in the depths of injury time, Defoe wrapped up a vital Rangers win with a tidy finish.
Man of the Match - James Tavernier
.@RangersFC have been awarded 5 penalties in their last 1 and a half games - that’s more than 6 sides in the @Scottishprem have won all season.— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 6, 2019
James Tavernier has now scored 5 goals v Aberdeen - more than he has scored against any other club in his career - 4 have been pens. pic.twitter.com/SVHAwPjTGW
Tavernier may have conceded an Aberdeen penalty, but his own spot-kick and assist for Jermain Defoe capped off a solid individual performance on a night full of indiscipline.
The right-back did well to contain the double threat of Max Lowe and Greg Stewart while showing his quality in the final third.
Aberdeen host Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup at 3.30pm on Sunday. Rangers, meanwhile, travel to Kilmarnock for their cup clash on Saturday for a 5.15pm kick-off.