RANGERS hit a fabulous four past Aberdeen at Pittodrie tonight for their first victory over the Dons this season.
After Alfredo Morelos’ opener was canceled out by Sam Cosgrove, the Colombian put Gers back in front before James Tavernier made it 3-1 at the break from the spot. Cosgrove pulled it back to 3-2 at the start of the second half, again with a penalty, but Jermain Defoe hit a fourth in injury time to seal the points.
From the side which hit four by St Mirren on Saturday, boss Steven Gerrard named three changes for this clash in the Granite City.
Out went Nikola Katic to be replaced by fit-again Connor Goldson; Ryan Jack took the place of Steven Davis while Jermain Defoe came out to be replaced by Daniel Candeias as Gerrard reverted back to the 4-3-3 formation.
It was Aberdeen who threatened early-on in the match, with Greg Stewart twice firing over the bar, firstly from distance before doing so again from inside the area after connecting to an Andrew Considine flick-on from a long throw.
It took until the 15 minute-mark for Gers to open up the home defence for their first real chance of the game, and it was a real, decent opening for Alfredo Morelos.
A super Borna Barisic ball picked out the run of Ryan Jack into the box, and at the second attempt, he managed to cut the ball back to Alfredo Morelos to poke the ball wide of the far right post from around 10-yards out.
Morelos wasn’t to be denied for long, however, as he fired Gers into the lead just five minutes later.
Picking up the ball to the right of goal around 30-yards out, Ryan Kent drifted to the other side and into the area, leaving a trail of Dons defenders in his wake.
His eventual blast at goal was well-saved by Joe Lewis, but the rebound fell to Morelos in a similar position to his earlier effort to this time stick in the back of the net.
But 10 minutes later, Aberdeen were level.
After seemingly having cleared some danger from a Greg Stewart cross, a Lewis Ferguson effort from distance bounced around the Gers box before dropping to the unmarked Sam Cosgrove for an easy finish beyond Allan McGregor.
Afterwards, James Tavernier had a free-kick from right of goal around 25-yards out saved by Lewis before the visitors retook the lead eight minutes before the interval with a quite sensational move.
Beginning with Allan McGregor picking out Borna Barisic, the Croatian then found Jack and he played a lovely one-two with Ryan Kent for the attacker to burst into space and take the bal towards the penalty area.
He spotted the tightest of gaps to play-in Alfredo Morelos, with the Colombian picking up Kent’s pass in his stride and curling the ball perfectly around Lewis for Gers to again go ahead.
It was a wonderful bit of football from Gers, and the raucous supporters from Glasgow got even louder two minutes before the break, with referee Bobby Madden awarding Gers a penalty.
Scott McKenna blatantly handled the ball in the area from a James Tavernier cross, with the whistler having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Goalkeeper Lewis got a hand to Tavernier’s kick, but the power in the effort took it by the giant stopper to hand Gerrard’s men a two-goal advantage going into the interval.
But that advantage was halved within a minute of the restart, with Aberdeen handed a penalty. From a corner kick, Tavernier brought Ferguson to the ground, with Cosgrove doing just enough with his kick to get it beyond McGregor.
Almost immediately, however, Rangers should have made it 4-2 and Morelos should have had his hat-trick after being released by Tavernier and going one-one-one with Lewis, with the big goalie coming out on top this time.
There always seems to be drama when these two meet, and the five goals were adding to with two red cards on 55 minutes, with both Morelos and McKenna dismissed for tussling with each other just outside the Aberdeen penalty area.
Gers switched to a 4-3-2 formation from there, initially with Kent and Candeias coming narrow up top before the latter was replaced by Jermain Defoe.
Trailing, Aberdeen bombarded Gers as the game wound down, and time and again, their attempts were repelled by an excellent defensive showing from Connor Goldson, Joe Worrall and then substitute Nikola Katic.
Then, with four of seven minutes of injury time played, super work from Ryan Jack and James Tavernier allowed the latter to break forward and pick out the unmarked Defoe at the back post to volley home and seal the points for the Light Blues.
A stunning game and a stunning result for Gers for their first victory over Aberdeen this season.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Barisic; McCrorie, Jack, Arfield (Coulibaly, 86); Candeias (Defoe, 70), Morelos, Kent (Katic, 83).
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Davis, Halliday, Lafferty.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan (Wilson, 64), Shinnie, Considine, McKenna, Hoban, Ferguson, Stewart, Mackay-Steven, Cosgrove, Lowe (McGinn, 86).
SUBS NOT USED: Cerny, Devlin, Gleeson, Ball, May.
REFEREE: Mr Bobby Madden
ATTENDANCE: 19190 (2050 away)