Gerrard’s Rangers denied win by late Aberdeen goal
Bruce Anderson scores injury-time equaliser against 10-man Rangers
Rangers Alfredo Morelos is sent off as manager Steven Gerrard looks away during the Scottish Premiership match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire
Aberdeen’s Bruce Anderson (left) celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with team-mates during the Scottish Premiership match against Rangers at Pittodrie. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire
But just as they looked set for the points, 19-year-old substitute Anderson struck in the 93rd minute to leave Gerrard deflated.
Gerrard has kicked off his Light Blues reign with successive aggregate Europa League victories over Shkupi and Osijek but knew his side would be pushed to the limit against an Aberdeen side which gave Burnley a fright on Thursday night in the same competition.
Both sets of supporters joined together for a minute’s applause in memory of the late Neale Cooper before kick-off.
But the niceties ended there as the spite and bite this fixture is known for emerged once more.
Gers were first to probe as Connor Goldson’s ball over the top four minutes in found Jamie Murphy sprinting beyond the ball-watching Scott McKenna. The Ibrox winger could not beat Joe Lewis but the visitors kept the pressure on, only for the Dons number one to save again from Scott Arfield.
It was not long before the first big flashpoint came as Morelos got his marching orders on 12 minutes.
Referee Kevin Clancy missed the Colombian bumping into McKenna, and then flicked out with a boot off the ball. Assistant David McGeachie got the message through and it spelled trouble for Gerrard’s men as the red card was brandished.
Yet Aberdeen’s man advantage was not immediately evident as they repeatedly let the visitors off the hook with a series of sloppy decisions.
Rangers were first to every ball and grabbed the opener on the half-hour mark. Jon Flanagan’s burst into the box left the Dons’ defence scrambling. Arfield’s shot was blocked but broke towards Josh Windass who was pulled back by former Rangers defender Dom Ball. Clancy pointed straight to the spot but refused to impose any further punishment despite Windass’s protests for another red card.
Lewis guessed correctly as Tavernier lined up his penalty but was beaten by the Gers skipper’s powerful strike.
There was a further blow for Dons boss Derek McInnes as McKenna limped off in the wake of the opener to be replaced by Chris Forrester. His side did at last force Allan McGregor into action just before the break as he darted from his line to tip away Niall McGinn’s cross before Sam Cosgrove could convert.
Aberdeen came out with more intent at the start of the second half but it was still Rangers who created the first opening, with Windass heading over from Lassana Coulibaly’s centre.
The visitors made sure to take their time over every stoppage in play to waste as many seconds as they could.
That left a look of concern on Gerrard’s face when six minutes of injury time were announced. And his fears proved well founded as Tavernier failed to cut out Andrew Considine’s knockdown, allowing Anderson to rifle the equaliser past McGregor.