RANGERS fell to an unfortunate loss at Pittodrie this afternoon as Aberdeen grabbed a 90th-minute winner in what was a keenly contested match.
Despite dominating for long spells and missing a number of chances, the Dons emerged victorious, meaning Rangers haven’t won any of their last four Scottish Premiership matches.
The game began at a frenetic pace, with both sides fashioning opportunities. For the Light Blues, Harry Forrester saw a goalbound effort deflected behind for a corner kick, while at the other end, Danny Wilson did well to stand up to Adam Rooney as he bore down on goal before clearing his shot away.
Rangers soon got a foothold on the game, and after moving the ball well from a corner kick, James Tavernier crossed well for Joe Garner in the six-yard box, but his header was just over the bar.
Tavernier then saw a free-kick from inside the ‘D’ blocked by the Dons’ wall, while Joe Garner had a shot from distance which took a wicked deflection and forced goalkeeper Joe Lewis into a smart save.
Wes Foderingham was forced into an even better save at the other end however as he acrobatically tipped a Kenny McLean drive over the bar as the home side made what was a rare foray into the Gers’ territory.
Harry Forrester has been in excellent form for Rangers at the start of this season, and he had a half-hearted claim for a penalty turned down by referee John Beaton after he went down under a Mark Reynolds challenge.
Winger Barrie McKay then got in on the action, unleashing a wicked, curling drive which only just went over the top of the bar, before Lee Wallace found Garner at the back post, with his header this time being blocked by Andrew Considine while Jason Holt may have done better with a shot from just inside the area that flew well wide.
As the interval approached, Rangers were well on top, and after Tavernier did extremely well to lose marker Considine, his cross found Holt once more, but this time he could shoot only straight into Lewis’ gloves.
Those missed opportunities were to come back to haunt Rangers however, as almost straight from kick-off at the start of the second half, Aberdeen took the lead through Johnny Hayes.
A long ball out of defence was knocked on by Rooney with Hayes reading it and running beyond the Gers defence before keeping his composure to slot beyond Wes Foderingham low to the keeper’s left.
It was a massive blow to the Light Blues who had played so well for long spells of the first half, but their response was good, and soon enough they began creating chances once again.
Firstly, Andy Halliday saw a free-kick from wide on the right whistle just past the post before Lee Wallace tried his luck with a 25-yard drive that only just cleared the crossbar and then Andy Halliday saw a similar effort go the same way.
It was all Rangers once again, and Martyn Waghorn really ought to have levelled when McKay turned Shaleum Logan inside out before finding the striker in the six yard area, and, albeit under pressure, he blasted over the bar.
Soon enough though, the pressure became too much for Aberdeen to handle, and Rangers got themselves back on level terms from the penalty spot after Lee Wallace was felled in the area by Jonny Hayes at the end of a charging run.
There was no doubt over the award, and up stepped Andy Halliday to send Lewis the wrong way and more than deservedly tie the score.
But with less than a minute of normal time remaining, Aberdeen won the game thanks to a superb free-kick from James Maddison. After Hayes was fouled on the edge of the area by Tavernier, Maddision’s effort cannoned off both posts before nestling in the back of the net.
Manager Mark Warburton and his staff were left fuming with the award of the free-kick, and confronted referee Beaton as the teams left the field.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Hill, Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Holt, Forrester (Kranjcar, 62); Waghorn (O’Halloran, 69), Garner (Miller, 78) McKay.
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks, Hodson, Dodoo, Senderos.
BOOKED: Garner, Wilson, Kranjcar, Tavernier.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Considine, Shinnie, Reynolds, O’Connor, McLean, Pawlett (Taylor, 45), Hayes, McGinn (Burns, 78) Rooney (Taylor, 90).
SUBS NOT USED: Alexander, Storie, Stockley, Storey.
BOOKED: Shinnie, Reynolds, O’Connor, Hayes, McLean.
REFEREE: John Beaton
ATTENDANCE: 19, 263 (inc. 1903 Rangers fans)