Ruthless Rangers take full advantage of Celtic slip-up as they crush Aberdeen 4-0 to move 11 points clear at the top of the Premiership
Rangers maintained their relentless pursuit of a Premiership title it increasingly appears is theirs to lose this season as they swept Aberdeen aside at Ibrox to increase their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.
Steven Gerrard’s side emphatically capitalised on the latest setback for champions Celtic who dropped two points in their 2-2 draw against Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday. Even though their Old Firm rivals have two games in hand, Rangers now look to be in a commanding position to lift the crown for the first time in 10 years.
They seldom looked in any danger of seeing their perfect home record in the league dented by an Aberdeen side shorn of several key players by a combination of injury and Covid issues from involvement in the Scotland under-21 squad. Lewis Ferguson was a particularly big miss for Derek McInnes’ men who were overpowered and outclassed in midfield.
Rangers have now won all eight of their Premiership fixtures at Ibrox this season without conceding a goal. They could easily have scored more than the four they managed here through Ryan Kent, Kemar Roofe, Scott Arfield and James Tavernier. But their goal difference is now superior to Celtic’s by a healthy tally of 17, strengthening the advantage they currently have in the title race.
Kent stings Aberdeen again
Kent scored the only goal of the game when the teams met at Pittodrie on the opening day of the season and the winger proved to be a thorn in Aberdeen’s side again.
As Rangers made a bright and assured start to the contest, Kent should have put them in front as early as the fourth minute. Tavernier cut inside and threaded a pass through the middle of the Aberdeen defence for Kent to run onto but he was just a little too deliberate with his shot which Joe Lewis was able to keep out.
Lewis and Ash Taylor then combined to smother an effort from Joe Aribo as Rangers continued to probe for the breakthrough which did come their way in the 15th minute.
There was an element of fortune in the goal for Kent as his shot from around 22 yards took a deflection off Tommie Hoban to send the ball spinning beyond Lewis via the goalkeeper’s left hand post. But there was much to admire in the manner Kent crafted the opening, gathering the ball in midfield and nutmegging Funso Ojo before driving into a shooting position.
Rangers appeared hard done by four minutes later when referee Nick Walsh rejected their appeal for a penalty after Roofe was clattered from behind inside the area by Ojo.
After their dominant start, Rangers didn’t get it all their own way and looked flat-footed at the back on a couple of occasions when Aberdeen launched counter attacks.
Allan McGregor turned a shot from Sam Cosgrove wide then made a smart save to deny Ryan Hedges after Alfredo Morelos had given possession away cheaply - not for the first or last time - much to the clear irritation of an animated Gerrard in his technical area.
Roofe turns on the style
But the Rangers manager was soon celebrating the insurance of a second goal for his side as Roofe scored his sixth of the season in fine style.
A superb first touch saw the striker bring a lofted through ball from Connor Goldson under control before jinking into the box beyond challenges from Greg Leigh and Andy Considine. Lewis managed to get a hand to Roofe’s shot but couldn’t keep it out.
While Rangers generally remained in control, Aberdeen continued to pose a sporadic threat on the break. Goldson did well to block a shot from Hedges, then McGregor saved a free-kick from Matty Kennedy which was conceded after more slack play from Morelos had allowed Aberdeen to surge forward in numbers.
But any notion of a comeback by the visitors was swept aside in the early stages of the second half as Rangers fully imposed their authority on proceedings.
They made it 3-0 in the 49th minute when Arfield, shortly after seeing a shot blocked by Considine, was teed up for another effort by smart play from Kent. This time, the midfielder’s shot from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection off Shay Logan to leave Lewis helpless as the ball looped into his net.
Four minutes later, Considine conceded a penalty as he clumsily man-handled Leon Balogun to the ground. The defender was booked for his trouble before Tavernier stepped forward to display his customary efficiency from the spot, sending Lewis the wrong way for his 13th goal of the season.
Morelos takes the huff
Despite the free-scoring nature of Rangers’ display, it hadn’t been the best of days for the sluggish Morelos. It was no surprise when he was replaced by Jermain Defoe just after the hour mark but the Colombian international decided to have a bit of a strop as he left the pitch at a snail’s pace before throwing away his gloves in the technical area beside Gerrard who simply ignored him.
Rangers had plenty of chances to add further goals, the best of them missed from close range by substitute Cedric Itten, but nothing could take the shine off a hugely satisfying afternoon for Gerrard.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Aribo (Hagi 74), Jack (Davis 56), Arfield; Roofe (Itten 74), Morelos (Defoe 66), Kent (Kamara 66). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Bassey, Helander, Barker.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan (Hernandez 84), Hoban, Taylor, Considine; Kennedy, Hedges, Leigh (Duncan 84), Ojo, Kennedy; Edmondson (Main 64), Cosgrove (Campbell 74). Subs not used: Devlin, Gallagher, Ngwenya, Woods, Ramsey.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.