Aberdeen weren’t able to lay a glove on Rangers at Ibrox, losing by a heavy 4-0 margin to Steven Gerrard’s side.
Ryan Kent and Kemar Roofe opened the scoring with two first-half goals to all but take the game away from Aberdeen. It became a thumping in the second half, Scott Arfield and James Tavernier adding insult to injury.
Derek McInnes’ squad was very light heading into this Govan battle. Already struggling with five or six injuries, they lost two key men in Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan on Saturday morning as they got caught up in the Scotland U21s Covid-19 outbreak.
It led to square pegs in round holes and Rangers would pounce on this. Kent put the home team 1-0 up 15 minutes in, a nice dribble followed up with an excellent strike that beat Joe Lewis via a deflection.
Shortly after it was 2-0 before the 30-minute mark. Roofe danced his way in and out of the Dons defence and fired into the net as Rangers took cruise control of Ibrox proceedings.
A tough task for Aberdeen had gotten much tougher for McInnes as his side headed into the second half looking for a borderline miracle. They had chances in the first 45 though, Sam Cosgrove and Ryan Hedges testing Allan McGregor.
It was game over after 49 minutes. Kent darted at the defence, teeing up Arfield who’s shot came off Shay Logan, then Ash Taylor, and into the net. 4-0 was the scoreline three minutes later.
Andy Considine pulled down Leon Balogun in the box, Tavernier stepping up to fire the Gers further ahead from the penalty spot. The tempo dropped off after this fourth goal as Aberdeen hoped for no more conceded and Rangers rang the changes.
Joe Lewis had to make one extraordinary save as the match came to a close, stopping Dean Campbell’s deflection hitting the net. There was also a big moment for Ryan Duncan, the 16-year-old handed a debut by his manager.
Games won’t come much more difficult than this for McInnes and his side as they file this one under one to forget. Here are three things we learned.
McInnes was not helped before a ball was kicked. Missing so many due to injuries and now Covid-19 isolation plus a positive test, the Dons boss had players out of position and teens on the bench.
Against this formidable Rangers side that simply isn’t a recipe for success and eventually the home team eased to victory. McInnes will rue the fact his team were damaged from the off.
Two early goals
Whilst not able to field their strongest squad, Aberdeen would have hoped to have held on for longer than they did. Two Rangers goals inside 30 minutes effectively killed this game.
It was damage limitation from this point on as the Dons’ outside hopes of getting anything from this were quickly banished.
Ferguson and McCrorie the key misses
The Dons had eight players missing overall in this contest but it was Ferguson and McCrorie who were missed most sorely.
A midfield of Funso Ojo and left-back Greg Leigh simply didn’t stand a chance against Ryan Jack, Arfield and Joe Aribo. Ferguson and McCrorie provide so much energy and attacking threat too but without them, the Dons engine room was overrun.