Aberdeen weren’t a match for Rangers as the Glasgow side coasted past their north-east rivals at Pittodrie 1-0.
Ryan Kent handed Rangers the lead with a strike just after the 20-minute mark. It was a game largely dominated by Steven Gerrard’s side, Aberdeen seeing their best chance scrambled off the line after an almighty six-yard box scrap. Andy Considine was sent off late on as the Pittodrie side’s defeat was confirmed.
A cagey start in the opening 20 minutes played out before Rangers split Aberdeen wide open. Morelos sent Kent through on goal as a large gap appeared in the middle of the defence. He raced in behind and put a calm finish past Joe Lewis.
Rangers had dominated the ball in that opening 20, but didn’t create much. That opening goal gave them a foothold and initiative. The next ten minutes were much like the first 20, Rangers dominated, as Derek McInnes swapped Jonny Hayes and Matty Kennedy to the left and right flanks in order to get some attacking juices flowing.
Nout was coming off though, McInnes’ side struggling to hold onto the ball for any length of time. Their best chance of the game came before the hour mark as a corner was floated into the box, and after a bit of a stramash, referee Bobby Madden blew for a free kick as Aberdeen tried to turn it over the line.
Ryan Edmondson was thrown on after the hour mark, the striker only arriving from Leeds United on a short-term loan deal a day previous to the season opener. Ianis Hagi saw a good, powerful effort flying just past the post, a reminder of the Rangers threat after a quiet spell. Morelos was denied a good chance by the block of Taylor as the Colombian closed in on goal.
It was all but done five minutes from time as Considine went flying in, studs up, on Scott Arfield. The experienced defender was dismissed and the game fizzled out from there.
It’s not the start Aberdeen wanted as Rangers pick up an important opening day victory. Here are three things we learned.
Neither team hit top gear in the season opener, which isn’t too shocking. Whilst Rangers coasted along in third gear, Aberdeen just stalled. They struggled to get their foot on the ball and string together a run of play.
Bruce Anderson was isolated up top and the midfield was bypassed in large spells. Defensively there was an opening left for the first Rangers goal. McInnes’ side just seemed a bit timid when trying to build play.
Rangers were allowed to do what they pleased, meaning they could just coast to victory. It’s a frustrating start for McInnes who’s side looked drained come the end of the 90 minutes.
In the build-up to this game, Aberdeen were dealt with a huge blow as Cosgrove was ruled out for the first few months of the season with injury. He was their top scorer last term with 23 goals in 37 matches.
Curtis Main was injured too so it was left to youngster Anderson and new recruit Edmondson to try and find the goals required for success.
It was hard not to feel sorry for Anderson as he was hooked after 63 minutes, watching balls soar over his head all day as tried to compete with Rangers’ towering backline. Edmondson couldn’t make a dent either as the game slipped away from Aberdeen.
Playing it safe
Aberdeen didn’t try overly ambitious in their season opener. That would be alright if they were defending a lead but they were playing like this at 1-0 down.
Rangers were under no real pressure all game. Whilst 1-0 is never a comfortable lead, it was as good as that, because their opponents didn’t turn the heat on. It was all quite timid and safe before Considine’s sending off finished things.
It’s only the opening day so there’s plenty of time to improve yet. But McInnes’ side need to take more gambles when up against it in future matches if they are to battle back from situations like the one they found themselves against Rangers.