Aberdeen 1-2 Rangers: Steven Gerrard's side move 22 points clear of Celtic

Match report as Rangers beat 10-man Aberdeen to move 22 points clear of Celtic; Ryan Hedges sent off for trip on Alfredo Morelos in penalty area; James Tavernier missed penalty; Morelos' double gave Rangers lead; Matthew Kennedy pulled goal back

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Highlights from the Scottish Premiership as Aberdeen faced Rangers.

Rangers moved 22 points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership after a 2-1 victory over 10-man Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The hosts were down to 10 men midway through the first half when Ryan Hedges, adjudged to have made no attempt to win the ball by referee John Beaten, was shown a straight red card (26) for tripping Alfredo Morelos in the penalty area. James Tavernier missed the resultant penalty, but Rangers were ahead minutes later thanks to Morelos' strike (32).

Rangers extended their advantage after the break as Morelos grabbed his second of the game (50) to reach 50 Scottish Premiership goals, but they were not home and dry as substitute Matthew Kennedy pulled a goal back (67).

It provided a nervy final 20 minutes or so for Steven Gerrard's side, but they held on to strengthen their bid for a first title in 10 years.

Defeat leaves Aberdeen in third, four points behind Celtic in second.

Can Celtic respond?

Celtic have the chance to cut the gap back to 19 points when they host Hibernian, live on Sky Sports Football; kick off 7.45pm.


How Rangers marched on...

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Rangers frontman Alfredo Morelos puts the visitors ahead at Pittodrie.

It was a sloppy start to the game from both sides. Ash Taylor was first to switch off as he let a Tavernier ball sail over his head inside the first 30 seconds, with the Aberdeen defender grateful to see Morelos' scuffed shot saved by Joe Lewis.

Rangers' defenders were just as sluggish as Hedges' punt forward bounced through for Curtis Main, who flicked the ball on for strike partner Sam Cosgrove. He raced onto the ball, Connor Goldson went to ground, but the striker made a mess of his finish despite having only Allan McGregor to beat.

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Player ratings

Aberdeen: Lewis (7), Considine (6), Hoban (6), Taylor (7), Hayes (8), Hedges (5), Campbell (6), Ferguson (6), Wright (7), Main (5), Cosgrove (6).

Subs: Logan (6), Kennedy (7), Edmondson (n/a).

Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (7), Goldson (7), Balogun (6), Barisic (7), Kamara (6), Aribo (7), Davis (7), Kent (8), Hagi (7), Morelos (8).

Subs: Zungu (n/a).

Man of the match: Alfredo Morelos.

Aberdeen then had left-back Jonny Hayes to thank as he booted a Ryan Kent effort off the line before Lewis parried away Tavernier's follow up.

The hosts should have then been behind when Tavernier failed to make it 10-in-a-row from the penalty spot. Morelos worked a clever one-two with Joe Aribo before bursting into the box. The Colombian prepared to pull the trigger but instead went to ground after Hedges clipped his heels from behind.

Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson (centre) reacts to Aberdeen's Ryan Hedges (not pictured) being show a red. 0:42
Ryan Hedges is sent off for a foul on Alfredo Morelos.
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James Tavernier misses a penalty for Rangers and a chance to put the visitors in front.

The referee brandished a straight red card, but Tavernier could not boost Rangers further with the opener as his penalty flashed wide of the post.

Rangers did grab the lead five minutes later, though. Kent played the ball into the path of Morelos, and the striker turned and drilled a low finish past Lewis.

Things almost got worse for the Dons just before the break as Main launched himself into a nasty studs-up challenge on Borna Barisic. Beaton only gave a yellow but Derek McInnes decided against keeping the striker on, replacing him with Shay Logan.

Rangers did net a second inside five minutes of the restart. Again, the threat came from the right as Aribo played the ball into the box. Another deft flick from Kent found Morelos and the 24-year-old drilled home his 10th goal of the season.

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Alfredo Morelos scores early in the second half to put Rangers 2-0 up at Pittodrie.

Team news

Derek McInnes was forced to do without Ross McCrorie against his parent club, while Steven Gerrard made just one change to last week's Old Firm-winning line-up as Ianis Hagi replaced the injured Kemar Roofe.

It looked to be plain sailing for Gerrard's men, but Aberdeen were allowed to grab a lifeline after 67 minutes. Cosgrove sent the ball down the right for Hayes, who cut back for unmarked substitute Kennedy to slot home.

It set up a grandstand finish, but Rangers carefully managed their way to a 15th straight win.

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Matty Kennedy pulls one back for Aberdeen to make the last 20 minutes slightly more interesting for the home side.
How Gerrard's Rangers turned tables on Celtic

How Gerrard's Rangers turned tables on Celtic

Steven Gerrard's side are 22 points clear of champions Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership standings...

What the managers said…

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McInnes: Penalty was harsh

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes: "Up until the penalty incident, I thought we were very good - there was nothing in the game. My assessment [of the penalty and red card] at the time, and now since I've seen it, is that Ryan Hedges has done everything not to bring him [Alfredo Morelos] down. You would think that would have some bearing on the decision. But John Beaton explained to me at half-time he had nowhere to go with the decision.

"I said to my staff 'we'll find out a lot about my team in the second half' because the last team you want to go a man down to is Rangers. I thought the players were excellent. We're just disappointed not to have got anything from the game. A lot of teams would have folded at the second goal."

Boyd: Lots for Gerrard to enjoy

Sky Sports' Kris Boyd:

"It doesn't matter how you get there, the most important thing is getting the three points. That's what Rangers did.

"Lots of the performance will please Steven Gerrard, Rangers have not been at their best recently but they've been finding ways to get results, and with Kemar Roofe out, it was important someone stepped up. Alfredo Morelos did that, and Ryan Kent had a really good match as well."

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: "I thought we were excellent up until 2-0. At 2-0, we changed our mentality and mindset. We were making passes and decisions we didn't need to make. There's a lot of things we need to look at, but to take nine from nine from Aberdeen is a big effort from the boys.

"Aberdeen have had too many good chances when we were 2-0 up. It was very similar to Benfica away. I'm looking for more leadership on the pitch. Having said that, it's another fantastic win at a real tough place."

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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says he was delighted with Alfredo Morelos' performance during their 2-1 victory at Aberdeen.

Man of the match - Alfredo Morelos

Alfredo Morelos celebrates after giving Rangers a 1-0 lead at Aberdeen
Image: Alfredo Morelos celebrates after giving Rangers a 1-0 lead at Aberdeen

Sky Sports' Kris Boyd: "His performances have not been up to standards he sets himself but there were signs he was back to his best. It wasn't his top form, but he was getting back to what he was last season."

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: "Something seems to have changed in the past couple of weeks. He's training well, he looks happy. Maybe that's because he's playing more."

Rangers midfielder Steven Davis: "I thought Morelos was excellent. He looked back to his best, picking up some really good spaces in between the lines. Obviously, a couple of good finishes so I'm delighted for him. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come from him as well."

What's next?

Rangers host Motherwell next Sunday (January 17) at Ibrox, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event; kick-off 12pm.


Before that, Aberdeen travel to Livingston on Wednesday (kick-off 7.45pm) before a trip to Ross County on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

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