Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers: Steven Gerrard denied first Rangers league win by 90th-minute Bruce Anderson equaliser
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 05/08/18 11:36pm
Bruce Anderson's injury-time equaliser denied Steven Gerrard his first league win as Rangers boss at Aberdeen, with a 1-1 draw.
James Tavernier scored from the spot just after the half-hour mark when Dominic Ball brought down Josh Windass, to give the Gers a surprise lead after Alfredo Morelos had been sent off early on.
It was Gerrard's side who continued to threaten despite their numerical disadvantage, and Jamie Murphy could have added to their lead after the break.
But Aberdeen, who had been so poor for the majority of the game, levelled through debutant Anderson in the third minute of stoppage time - with their first shot on target - to spark wild celebrations at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen: Lewis (7), Ball (6), Devlin (7), McKenna (6), Considine (6), Gleeson (5), Shinnie (6), Ferguson (6), McGinn (5), Cosgrove (6), Mackay-Steven (5).
Subs: Forrester (6), May (5), Anderson (7).
Rangers: McGregor (6), Tavernier (7), Goldson (7), Katic (7), Flanagan (7), Coulibaly (8), Jack (7), Arfield (6), Murphy (6), Morelos (4), Windass (6).
Subs: Kent (5), Ejaria (n/a).
Man of the match: Lassana Coulibaly
The Gers settled far the better at the home of a side who lost only four times at Pittodrie in the league last season - and one of those defeats was to Rangers.
With both sides still sizing one another up, Kevin Clancy sprung a surprise by whistling during a Rangers attack and sending Morelos off, for what replays showed was a kick on defender Scott McKenna in response to being shoved by the Dons player.
Rangers were shell-shocked for a few minutes, but once they regained their composure they should have opened the scoring when Jamie Murphy was played through but he denied by Joe Lewis, and from the rebound Scott Arfield's tame shot was caught by the home goalkeeper.
They did take the lead though when Windass went down under slight contact on his back by Ball and Clancy awarded a slightly soft penalty. Captain Tavernier stepped up to beat Lewis from the spot.
Rangers made three changes from their Europa League draw with Osijek on Thursday, bringing in Josh Windass, Jamie Murphy and Scott Arfield.
Despite their late night at Burnley on the same evening, the only names missing from Derek McInnes' line-up were Shaleum Logan and Tommie Hoban, who were replaced by Stephen Gleeson and Dominic Ball.
The half-time break did little to re-invigorate Aberdeen, despite their man advantage, and Rangers came closest to finding the next goal when Jack Ross found Murphy on the break, but with only Andrew Considine back, he fired his shot straight at the defender.
Aberdeen, meanwhile, were struggling to even look likely to create anything, and only in the final five minutes did Lewis Ferguson nod wide from a free-kick in their first clear-cut chance.
That was until Anderson, making his first appearance for his hometown club and still 19 until September, showed the composure of an experienced striker to collect Michael Devlin's flick and slot beyond Allan McGregor.
Man of the match - Lassana Coulibaly
Helped the Gers to boss midfield on his debut even when reduced to 10 men, and was the perfect person to put his foot on the ball and keep them in possession when Aberdeen looked to make their numerical advantage count.
In what increasingly became a war of attrition as the game went on, he looked older than his 22 years in keeping the hosts quiet and could be an astute signing for Gerrard if he keeps this kind of performance up.
Aberdeen visit Dundee next Saturday at 3pm in the Scottish Premiership, while Rangers travel to Maribor on Thursday in the third round of Europa League qualifying.