A SIMPLY wonderful performance from 10-man Rangers saw the Light Blues defeat Aberdeen and leapfrog them into second place in the Scottish Premiership table this afternoon.
Dogged, determined and possessing quality when it mattered, goals from Danny Wilson and Josh Windass sealed a memorable win in the Granite City, despite Ryan Jack’s red card and a Frank Ross free-kick consolation.
It was a lively start in the Granite City, with Gers seizing the early initiative in the match. Josh Windass forced Anthony O’Connor into the cheap concession of a corner inside the first minute, with the Englishman’s subsequent ball in finding Kenny Miller at the front post.
Windass then latched onto a long ball through the middle from Danny Wilson, beating Andy Considine for pace in the process. As he entered the area, goalkeeper Joe Lewis came to close him down, with Windass falling to the ground, resulting in a yellow card from referee Willie Collum for simulation.
All-in though, it was a bright start from Gers, and one they capitalised on 14 minutes in to the game with Wilson giving the visitors the lead with a sublime header.
From far out on the right wing, Declan John delivered a delicious free-kick to the edge of the box. From there, Wilson still had plenty to do for his third goal for the club, but his looping header was quite superb and gave Lewis absolutely no chance.
Following the opening goal, Rangers were quite happy to keep possession, confidently stroking the ball about on the Pittodrie turf, with the Dons best effort being a Rooney flick towards goal from a Scott Wright cross which went over the bar.
Gers play was always going to lead to further chances, and Windass brought out an excellent save from Lewis with a 20-yard drive from a central position after being set-up by a neat Carlos Pena flick.
It had been such a comfortable half for Gers, but they had a major let-off right on half-time. From a Greg Stewart free-kick, Andy Conside headed against the bar from close range for their best opportunity, and indeed the last action, of the half.
That interval brought a blow for Murty’s men, with Danny Wilson having to be replaced by Fabio Cardoso.
Aberdeen began the half with a little more pressure on the Gers goal than they had in the first, but the best chance of the opening exchanges again came from Rangers.
Carlos Pena and Josh Windass played a superb one-two on the edge of the box before Windass played the ball between the Aberdeen defence for Kenny Miller. From an acute angle, Miller lashed the ball goalwards and brought out another stunning save from Lewis.
Once again, the Light Blues were performing well, but they were dealt a further blow 10 minutes into the second half as Ryan Jack was sent off on his return to Pittodrie. After winning the ball, the midfielder followed through and caught Stevie May on the ankle, with referee Collum immediately going to his top pocket.
It would have been easy for Gers to go into their shell following the dismissal, but they continued to play and got a stunning reward on 63 minutes.
James Tavernier won the ball in his own half and immediately strode forward with it. He then released substitute Daniel Candeias, who in turn crossed into the box.
Josh Windass had raced into the area, getting in front of Shay Logan in the process, and finished beautifully into the bottom corner, before he ran to celebrate his fourth goal in six games wildly with the Gers bench.
It was quite incredible at Pittodrie, and the drama continued, as the Dons pulled a goal back almost straight from the restart.
After a Tavernier foul 25-yards from goal, youngster Frank Ross curled a sublime effort into the top corner from the free-kick to give the home side some hope going into the closing stages.
But, for all they naturally went on to dominate the ball, chances were few and far between, and it took until the 85th minute until they got a shot of note away – an effort from Greg Stewart – which was testament to how well Gers were defending.
Time and again the Dons crossed into the box, and time and again one of the two centre-halves won the ball, leading to some fabulous scenes of celebration at the full-time whistle from the players and travelling fans, who could be heard loud and proud as they exited into the chill Aberdeen afternoon.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Wilson (Cardoso, 45), John, McCrorie, Jack, Holt, Pena (Candeias, 57) Windass (Herrera, 90+3), Miller.
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Hodson, Morelos, Barjonas.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine (Harvie, 81) O’Connor, McLean, Stewart, Rooney, Wright (Ross, 51) McKenna, May (Maynard, 61)
SUBS NOT USED: Rogers, Reynolds, Arnason, Ball..
REFEREE: Mr Willie Collum