The match looked to be finishing goalless but the Slovakian hitman stunned the Aberdeen faithful with his first Ibrox goal to send the home support into ecstasy.

It was a massive moment for Paul Le Guen and his players as they can now go into the international break having got back to winning ways in the SPL and with UEFA Cup football to look forward to after Thursday’s victory over Molde. 

Le Guen handed Bosnian Sasa Papac his home debut and the centre-half was outstanding alongside Phil Bardsley, Julien Rodriguez and Stevie Smith in a four-man backline.

Barry Ferguson, as expected, retained his place in the starting eleven after his excellent display against Molde and Walter Smith was sitting in the Director’s Box to watch the Scotland captain in action along with Aberdeen stars Russell Anderson and Scott Severin.

Kris Boyd’s exclusion from today’s team might have surprised the national coach ahead of next weekend’s big game against France with Le Guen electing to play Dado Prso as a lone striker with Thomas Buffel, Charlie Adam and Libor Sionko giving support to the big Croatian.

Rangers started the match brightly and looked determined to get a much needed win to get their domestic campaign back on track after recent defeats to Hibs and Celtic.

Prso had a chance to open the scoring after only four minutes when he received the ball 20 yards from goal but the hitman tried to cut back on to his left foot and this allowed Aderdeen’s defence to close him down.

Buffel then had a penalty claim four minutes later when he wrestled with Michael Hart in the Aberdeen box but Charlie Richmond made the correct decision by letting play continue.

Charlie Adam continued his recent impressive form in the opening stages of today’s match and the youngster was unlucky with a swerving free-kick from 30-yards which Jamie Langfield did well to hold.

Aberdeen, with Darren Mackie and Lee Miller in attack, were clearly intent on sitting back and frustrating the Gers and they showed very little in the way of attacking purpose until the half-hour mark when Andrew Considine headed the ball inches over the bar from a Scott Severin free-kick.

Rangers could possibly have had another good shout for a penalty when Prso appeared to be pulled down in the box with his back to goal but Richmond again waved away the Gers’ players pleas.

This decision could have went either way but the referee had no hesitation in issuing his first yellow card to Dons left-back Considine for a terrible challenge on Sionko on 32 minutes.

The game was crying out for a bit of magic at this stage and Buffel looked like the man to provide it when Adam found the Belgian running through on goal.

The playmaker took the ball beyond Langfield but went wide of goal and when he eventually tried his luck the keeper was there to gather his attempted chip.

Barry Ferguson had an industrious first-half but the skipper was tearing his hair our when he missed a sitter minutes before the half-time interval.

Adam held on to the ball on the left before producing a terrific cross to the unmarked Ferguson who headed straight at Langfield from six yards.

Le Guen did not make any changes for the start of the second period but Rangers came out of the traps quickly and again had a great chance to take the lead a minute into the restart.

A corner kick fell to Libor Sionko at the back post but the Czech, having taken the ball around Landfield, fired his effort over from only four yards.

 

The chances were to keep coming for the home side and Adam was next up to have a go when he fired a low shot from the edge of the box which flew past the Dons keeper and narrowly missed the target.

Le Guen was forced to make his first change of the day on 56 minutes when Sionko pulled up with a hamstring injury while chasing a pass from Ferguson.

Le Gaffer immediately sent Kris Boyd on to the field and the prolific hitman was given a rapturous welcome from the Gers’ faithful who were desperate to see their side hit the net.

Boyd’s presence immediately caused problems for an Aberdeen backline that had been weakened after influential captain Russell Anderson had been replaced by Zander Diamond after taking a knock.

And it was not long before Jimmy Calderwood had made his second change with Daren Mackie being replaced by Dutch striker Dyron Daal who had scored in the Dons’ two previous games.

Boyd, who has notched six goals this season, had a chance to make it seven when he was found in the box by Prso but his powerful effort on the turn went into the arms of Langfield.

Le Guen was clearly looking for more from his team at this stage and he was quick to make his second substitution by replacing Prso with on loan winger Lee Martin and it was not long before Sebo also joined the action.

With 20 minutes remaining, Aberdeen looked quite happy to sit back and possibly catch the Gers’ defence napping.

The tactic almost worked when Scott Severin smashed a shot come cross into the danger area and substitute Diamond dived to head the ball inches over with McGregor well beaten.

Le Guen’s patience was clearly being tested at this time and the usually calm Frenchman was out in his technical area urging his players to push forward at every given opportunity.

The Dons, however, can never be written off and with only 13 minutes remaining they came within inches of snatching a goal.

Winger Chris Clark skipped past Julien Rodriguez and, with only McGregor to beat, chipped the ball delicately over the keeper. The ball came off the inside of the far post before the danger was cleared.

It was a heart-stopping moment for the home support who had watched their side dominate proceedings for long spells.

Rangers continued to search for a last-gasp winner and Buffel came close when a cross to the back post was cleared off the line by Diamond.

The pressure was starting to take its toll on the Dons’ defence and it eventually cracked on 88 minutes. 

Buffel received the ball in the 18-yard box and when his effort was blocked it fell to Sebo who smashed a low drive into the corner of the net and Ibrox erupted. 

It was a great end to a dramatic 90 minutes at Ibrox and, with Hearts and Celtic also recoding wins on the same day, the importance of Rangers getting three points can not be under-estimated. 

RANGERS: McGregor; Smith, Papac, Rodriguez, Bardsley; Ferguson, Hemdani; Sionko (Boyd 56), Buffel, Adam Sebo (88); Prso (Martin 67)

Subs Not Used: Robinson, Rae, Svensson, N’Diaye

Bookings: Papac (55), Rodriguez (78) Sebo (88)

ABERDEEN: Langfield; Considine, Hart, Anderson (Diamond 56), Foster; Clark, Dempsey, Severin, Nicholson; Miller, Mackie (Daal 64)

Subs Not Used: Soutar, Smith, Winter, Donald, Maguire

Bookings: Considine (32), Hart (43)

Referee: Charlie Richmond

Attd: 50,488

Man of the Match: Sasa Papac

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