Full TimeSecond Half ends, Aberdeen 2, Rangers 0.Post updateAttempt missed. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jon McLaughlin.Post updateAttempt saved. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jon McLaughlin.Post updateAttempt saved. Borna Barišić (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alfredo Morelos.Post updateAttempt blocked. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by James Tavernier.Post updateFoul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).Post updateNicolas Raskin (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Post updateFoul by Ryan Kent (Rangers).Post updateLewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Post updateOffside, Aberdeen. Ryan Hedges tries a through ball, but Jonny Hayes is caught offside.SubstitutionSubstitution, Aberdeen. Bruce Anderson replaces Bojan Miovski.SubstitutionSubstitution, Rangers. Steven Davis replaces Joe Aribo.SubstitutionSubstitution, Rangers. Scott Arfield replaces Malik Tillman.SubstitutionSubstitution, Aberdeen. Dean Campbell replaces Ryan Hedges.BookingBooking, Rangers. Joe Aribo is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Goal!Goal! Aberdeen 2, Rangers 0. Bojan Miovski (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ryan Hedges with a cross following a corner.Goal!Goal! Aberdeen 1, Rangers 0. Liam Scales (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner following a set piece situation.
Liam Scales’ incredible opener set Aberdeen on course to a shock victory over Rangers and gave his parent club Celtic the chance to seal the Scottish Premiership title in their first post-split game. The on-loan defender’s cross from wide on the left swept over Allan McGregor and into the net to give Aberdeen an early second-half breakthrough. Bojan Miovski soon headed in the hosts’ second – awarded after a VAR offside check – to give interim manager Barry Robson a seventh consecutive win and a five-point cushion in third place.
Rangers had ample opportunity to gain a foothold in the first half, with Alfredo Morelos’ volley on the turn being superbly cleared off the line by the head of Leighton Clarkson, and John Lundstram thrashing over in the aftermath. Malik Tillman then sent Fashion Sakala racing beyond Mattie Pollock and Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos was quick off his line to make a fine save, although the striker should have done better. Borna Barisic’s effort from the left hit the outside of Roos’ near post and Pollock slid in to block Nicolas Raskin’s effort after further Rangers probing.
Aberdeen had been timid but Ben Davies’ mistake gave Ylber Ramadani a run and shot at goal, which McGregor saved, and a loose pass by James Tavernier ended with Ryan Duncan sweeping wide. And the hosts found themselves in front after the break when Scales intercepted a pass towards Morelos and crossed from a deep position on the left, the ball deceiving everyone as it flew into the net.
Robson’s side were buoyant and they had the ball in the net again when Clarkson’s superb cross was headed past McGregor by the diving Miovski. VAR checked for offside but the goal stood. An early penalty appeal following Rangers defender John Souttar’s challenge on Luis Lopes had been waved away by Nick Walsh and the official was unmoved again when Jonny Hayes went down under pressure from Lundstram.
Rangers have been used to being behind in games this season and recovering to win – including at Pittodrie in December with efforts in the 95th and 97th minutes – but the two goals left them deflated and short of ideas. James Tavernier did force a save from Roos with a close-range volley and Raskin’s replacement Rabbi Matondo should have netted when sent through by Tillman, his effort grazing a post. But Aberdeen were good value for their win and will be hard to stop as they press for the coveted third place.
Player of the match – Leighton Clarkson, Aberdeen seized their moment with analysis suggesting that their best route to goal was trying to force defensive mistakes. Although likely unintentional, the Scales goal came from slackness by Morelos, while Rangers’ marking at the Miovski goal was poor. The main ingredient missing from Rangers’ work was decision making in the final third as approach play by Tillman and Raskin got them into good areas but too often the wrong choice of shot or pass made Aberdeen’s task easier.
The Premiership title has long been a faint hope for Rangers, given Celtic’s largely flawless campaign, but a fourth league defeat of the season does little for the Ibrox side’s confidence before next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with the league leaders. Barry Robson, Aberdeen interim manager, said: “I’ve never got carried away once and I still don’t. It’s the best I’ve heard Pittodrie in a long time and it was really pleasing to get the three points.” Michael Beale, Rangers manager, said: “First half was extremely comfortable. We were playing well… After that we have two massive opportunities, probably a couple more half opportunities. In both boxes we weren’t good enough.”
Rangers face Celtic in next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final (13:30 BST), and both clubs begin their Premiership post-split fixtures over the first week in May.