Rangers were so close to kicking off their Scottish Premier League season in style as they led 1-0 win over Aberdeen away from home, despite going down to ten men after just 12 minutes as Alfredo Morelos was sent off, but tiredness caught up with them deep into injury time and Bruce Anderson’s late equaliser spoiled their afternoon.
James Tavernier converted a penalty on the half-hour mark to give his side a deserved lead as they fought back in tough circumstances and the captain’s strike from 12 yards looked to have been enough to secure a win.
Aberdeen posed little threat until the dying moments when Bruce Anderson found space in the box in the third minute of injury time and rifled into the far corner with Aberdeen’s first shot on target.
Here’s what can be taken from the tie…
Alfredo Morelos was unfortunate, but foolish
12 minutes in to the first Scottish Premier League fixture of the season, Alfredo Morelos was dismissed for kicking out at Scott McKenna in an off the ball incident witness by the assistant referee. The decision was harsh to say the least, and nine times out of ten would not be spotted by the refereeing team, let alone result in a red card.
Yet, Morelos still gave the referee the decision to make. Too often his short fuse has cost him and he should know better than to lash out in such a way. Such an early red card undoubtedly proved decisive as Rangers couldn’t quite hold on until the final whistle.
Steven Gerrard has instilled his fighting spirit
Rangers showed real strength to rally back from going a man down and remained the dominant force throughout the remaining 78 minutes that they faced with only ten men. Much like Gerrard as a player, Rangers fought against the odds and didn’t waver from their style of play.
It was a tense and heated battle with Aberdeen with several doses of handbags that were reminiscent of a young Gerrard but even in his first league game, it is clear that the manager has had an instant impact on the dressing room. That Rangers could not quite stay firm until the end just goes to show that there is still work for the boss to do.
Away form could again be key
Rangers lost only three times on the road last season and kept up that formidable record to start off 2018/19. If Rangers are to push Celtic for the title this season then maintaining that kind of form away from home will be crucial as it is a record that few teams can match. Given the circumstances on Sunday, a draw is not a poor result either.
Most games will be significantly more comfortable than this one too and whilst the ending leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, fans will look back on reflection and feel that this point could be a valuable one.