Aberdeen 2-2 Rangers: Steven Gerrard's side let two-goal lead slip to draw at Pittodrie
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 05/12/19 9:15am
Rangers lost ground to Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Steven Gerrard's side went to the Granite City just a goal behind their Old Firm rivals ahead of the League Cup final on Sunday but were left to rue a second-half dip in intensity as they let the points slip when they looked to be cruising after a dominant start.
The visitors took the lead following an early spell of pressure, with Scott Arfield (18) guiding James Tavernier's low cross into the net before former Dons captain Ryan Jack followed up an Alfredo Morelos effort to make it 2-0 on the half-hour mark.
Aberdeen: Lewis (6); Logan (5), Taylor (6), McKenna (6), Considine (7); Vyner (5), Leigh (6), Ferguson (7), Gallagher (8); Wilson (7), Cosgrove (6).
Subs: McLennan (N/A), Hedges (N/A)
Rangers: Rangers: McGregor (6), Tavernier (6), Helander (6), Goldson (6), Flanagan (5), Jack (7), Davis (6), Arfield (7), Aribo (6), Kent (6), Morelos (6).
Subs: Katic (N/A), Ojo (N/A)
Man of the match: Jon Gallagher
Aberdeen got back into the game against the run of play as Jon Gallagher took advantage of some slack defending to get one back for his side six minutes before the interval before Andrew Considine made it 2-2 shortly after the restart.
Tavernier was a constant early threat down the right-hand side as Rangers bombarded the Aberdeen box with crosses and free-kicks. The opening chance fell to Morelos, who pounced on a mistake by Greg Leigh but his powerful drive was well saved by Joe Lewis.
Borna Barisic was a surprise absentee for the visitors as Jon Flanagan came back in for his first start since September's Old Firm defeat and there will be some concern now about the Croatian's availability for Hampden.
Derek McInnes admitted over the weekend that Gers were a better team with better players than his side - and his concern was evident as he named a starting line-up that included six recognised defenders. Niall McGinn was out due to injury, while Ryan Hedges and Dean Campbell had to settle for a spot on the bench as Shay Logan, Ash Taylor and James Wilson came into the starting line-up for the hosts.
The Colombia international had another sight of goal soon after but his dipping effort was well held by Lewis in the Dons goal.
Rangers did take the lead after 18 minutes, however. Joe Aribo fed Tavernier again down the right-hand side and his low cross was guided into the bottom corner by Arfield.
It was 2-0 on the half-hour mark as Aberdeen struggled to contain the visitors. The hosts were sloppy in possession and Rangers pounced, with Morelos combining well with Ryan Kent who released the striker again. His effort was spilled by Lewis and Jack was on hand to follow up.
Aberdeen had lost 5-0 at Ibrox earlier in the season and another emphatic scoreline looked on the cards but they somehow found a way back into the game six minutes before the interval.
James Wilson did well to find the run of Jon Gallagher, who evaded two Rangers defenders and the oncoming Allan McGregor to get his shot away and beat Tavernier and Filip Helander on the line.
Sam Cosgrove forced a save from McGregor early in the second period after Rangers were untidy with the ball deep in their half and that was a sign of things to come shortly after.
The hosts were back on level terms after 48 minutes when Cosgrove's effort was deflected by Helander right into the path of Considine, who smashed the ball into the net from close range after being left in acres of space.
McGregor then had to be alert after Jon Flanagan completely miscued a clearance, sending the ball high into the air but the Rangers goalkeeper was equal to Leigh's powerful header.
Cosgrove then had a glorious chance to put his side in front but he missed a header from close range when he really should have scored.
Then came the controversial moment of the second half. Lewis Ferguson tripped Morelos with referee John Beaton awarding a free-kick when pictures showed the contact was inside the box.
Tavernier then forced Lewis into a good diving save with a curling free-kick as time ticked away.
But Rangers were left to rue two points dropped as Celtic's injury-time winner against Hamilton saw them fall behind their rivals as attention now turns to Sunday's showpiece final at Hampden.
What the managers said…
Derek McInnes: "The whole reference point for us has been the two Old Firm games this season.
"We're four points ahead of last season's tally and everyone wants to slap us down for the Old Firm games - I get that. But our actual league form is good.
"We spoke the last time about not showing enough passion or aggression or being ready to do battle. This time we were too excitable, too rushed in possession and we were probably too pumped up for the game.
"I've seen Rangers go on to score three, four or five but it was a great response from my players. At 2-0 down I'd have taken a point."
Steven Gerrard: "It's a tough one. We were dominant and controlling the game. I was so pleased with what I was seeing but we conceded a silly goal and it flipped the whole momentum of the game.
"We were too confident at 2-0 and Aberdeen went direct in the second half and we couldn't handle the pressure."