JAMES TAVERNIER grabbed goals 15 and 16 of the season to smash his own record for strikes in a season by a Rangers full-back as Gers defeated Aberdeen at Ibrox this afternoon.
The Light Blues were well on-top in the game, but it took two second half penalties from the skipper to break the deadlock and ensure Gers will finish at least second in this season’s Scottish Premiership.
Boss Steven Gerrard made just the one change for this afternoon’s match, bringing Ryan Kent, who missed the last two games through suspension, back into the side in place of Daniel Candeias.
Gers should have had the lead inside five minutes, with Scott Arfield releasing Kent down the right, but his cut-back was behind the well-stationed Jermain Defoe in the box before he got a second attempt as Ryan Jack played the clearance to him, only for the Dons to block.
Kent always looked like Gers’ most likely route to goal in the opening stages, and he dragged a shot just wide of the target from the edge of the area following excellent build-up play by Jermain Defoe.
Defoe himself then had an excellent opportunity as Arfield spun on the edge of the box to put the striker in for a shot, but goalkeeper Joe Lewis made an excellent save with his right hand to deny the Gers man.
Defoe was soon almost afforded a tap-in from a James Tavernier ball, but Miey Devlin scrambled the ball clear before Defoe could finish from two-yards out.
Gers were really starting to motor, and Steven Davis picked out Defoe with a ball over the top, although the Dons managed to get enough bodies back to divert his shot away for a corner. From that corner, Connor Goldson headed a Kent cross over at the near post.
Lewis then denied Tavernier with another decent save, this time Defoe being the provider before the goalkeeper blocked from Ryan Jack when the rebound reached the midfielder at the edge of the box.
Into the second half, and Gers were awarded a penalty within three minutes of the restart. The Aberdeen defence took ages to clear a Davis ball into the area from a corner, before Nikola Katic got his body in front of Lewis Ferguson.
Ferguson caught the ankle of the big Croatian to bring him to the ground, with referee Don Robertson immediately pointing to the spot.
Up-stepped James Tavernier to take the kick, and he sent Lewis the wrong way to hand the home side a deserved lead given the balance of play in the match to that point.
It was the captain’s 15th of the season – matching his own record for goals scored in a season by a Rangers full-back.
Defoe had the chance for two as a Tavernier cross was inadvertently put into his path by Lewis, but he blasted his first-time shot over from close range.
Tavernier then had the ball in the net again at the end of a superb, flowing move which ended with Defoe playing the skipper in to lob the ball over Lewis, but he was adjudged to have been offside.
With 11 minutes left to play, Gers were awarded a second penalty and the chance to kill the game. Again, Katic was fouled in the box from a Davis corner, this time with Andy Considine catching him with a flailing arm.
Considine was shown a second yellow card, and Tavernier again made no mistake from the spot, finding the bottom corner to now smash his record with his 16th of the season.
The final few minutes saw the introduction of Lee Wallace from the bench for his first appearance of the season at Ibrox, and he was given an outstanding reception by the 49,667 supporters inside Ibrox.
Ryan Jack again tested Lewis with a drive from 25-yards in injury-time as Gers searched for a third, but 2-0 is how it finished as the Light Blues secured second place in the Scottish Premiership.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan; Davis (McCrorie, 84), Jack, Kamara; Arfield, Kent (Candeais, 84), Defoe (Wallace, 88).
SUBS: Foderingham, Worrall, Halliday, Middleton.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Ball, Considine, McKenna, Lowe, Gleeson (Campbell, 61), Ferguson, McLennan (Devlin, 15), Wilson, May, Cosgrove (Stewart, 76).
SUBS: Cerny, Halford, Virtanen, Ross.
REFEREE: Don Robertson.