Match report as Rangers come from behind to beat Aberdeen 4-1 at Ibrox; Aberdeen took lead through Connor Barron; Rangers hit back through Antonio Colak and John Lundstram to lead at half-time; Goals from James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos completed big win
Rangers’ James Tavernier celebrates scoring to make it 3-1
Rangers eased the pressure on boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst by coming from a goal down to beat Aberdeen 4-1 at Ibrox.
The visitors left the home side stunned as Connor Barron scored his first goal for the club to give Aberdeen a 21st-minute lead.
However, Rangers responded brilliantly as goals from Antonio Colak (27) and John Lundstram (45+3) completed the turnaround before half-time.
Rangers extended their lead in the 51st minute when James Tavernier headed home Borna Barisic’s cross, but they were denied a fourth when the Rangers captain’s spot kick rebounded off the post after Jayden Richardson was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty after a VAR check.
It wasn’t to prove costly for Van Bronckhorst’s side as substitute Alfredo Morelos, who had one goal disallowed, added a fourth after another VAR check as Rangers eased to a victory which sees them move to within a point of leaders Celtic, who face Livingston live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
‘I expect that level every game’
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst:
“I’m really pleased with the performance. The crowd was with us the whole game. I expect that level of performance every game we play.
“We started really aggressive and positive. Our structure was really good and we were quick in our passing to attack the space, especially our wingers.
“Even after the goal against us, we showed the desire to go forward and create chances. Even in the first half we could have been three or four up.
“It gives us confidence. Aberdeen were in good form, but we didn’t give them any chance.”
How Rangers eased to big win over Aberdeen…
Van Bronckhorst went into the game under increasing scrutiny after his side slipped four points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic last weekend and being booed at the end of a second home game running when they drew 1-1 with Livingston.
A demoralising Champions League campaign had continued on Wednesday night with a 3-0 defeat by Napoli but Rangers demonstrated their domestic desire and this time there were cheers at the final whistle.
It was quite an afternoon in Govan. The unchanged visitors, who arrived third in the league, pressed from the first whistle but Rangers played their way through with purpose with attacker Fashion Sakala, back in the side along with Colak, knocking a Ryan Kent cross over the bar.
There was a groan around Ibrox in the sixth minute when Rangers left-back Ridvan Yilmaz went to ground clutching his hamstring after blocking a cross on the byline and he was replaced by Borna Barisic with the fans noting another addition to the club’s lengthy injury list.
In the 20th minute, Colak’s shot from distance drew a decent save from Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos but then came the Dons’ stunner.
Luis Lopes turned young defender Leon King three times inside the box and the visitors claimed for a penalty when Tavernier put in a challenge but Barron wasted no time in firing the loose ball past ‘keeper Allan McGregor.
The home fans urged their side forward in response and former Rangers player Ross McCrorie cleared an attack off the line but just as the frustrations began to build, Rangers equalised.
Malik Tillman took a pass from Lundstram and squared for the prolific Colak to sweep his shot low past Roos from 16 yards for his 14th goal of the season.
Aberdeen came under pressure. Roos blocked a shot from Sakala after Colak had split open the Dons defence and amid a frenetic game, there was also an ignored Rangers penalty claim when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Liam Scales.
But with seconds remaining of the first half, a cleared Barisic free-kick fell to Tavernier whose drive from the edge of the box was parried by Roos. Rangers defender Ben Davies knocked the ball back from a tight angle for Lundstram to hammer high into the net.
Davies was replaced by midfielder Scott Arfield for the start of the second half with James Sands moving back to defence.
The match continued at a breathless pace and the home side increased their lead when Tavernier climbed above Aberdeen defender Jack MacKenzie at the back post to head in a Barisic cross.
There was a VAR check in the 57th minute after the ball appeared to hit the hands of Jayden Richardson inside the box and after checking his monitor, referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot with Tavernier striking the post with his effort.
Rangers kept up the pressure and in the 73rd minute Arfield’s side-footed shot was cleared off the line by Leighton Clarkson.
Then Morelos, who replaced Colak, had the ball in the net but was ruled offside after a VAR check and after tapping in from a Sakala cross in the 86th minute, after a longer VAR check, this time the goal stood.
‘I’ll take criticism for set up’
Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin:
“Whatever criticism comes my way for setting the team up in the fashion I did, I’ll take it.
“With the group of players I put together in the summer, I don’t want us going anywhere and being negative.
“First half, I didn’t think there was a great deal in it. We had spoken about getting on top early on and getting the fans on the players’ backs, but we lost a couple of poor goals.
“We still believed we had enough in the tank to impose ourselves on Rangers in the second half, but we only had one real effort through Duk.
“We need to take this one on the chin. It’s a very sore one.”
Rangers are away to St Johnstone in their next Scottish Premiership match on Sunday 6 November.