Aberdeen’s struggles against Rangers continued as they suffered a 2-1 defeat in a controversial encounter at Pittodrie.
The Dons were reduced to 10 men after 26 minutes when Ryan Hedges saw red for denying Alfredo Morelos a goalscoring opportunity but James Tavernier was unable to convert the resulting penalty kick.
But the Gers surged ahead after 32 minutes, only four minutes after missing from the spot, with Morelos grabbing his ninth of the season with a smart finish.
Morelos doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half when he fired home after a neat flick by Ryan Kent.
Matty Kennedy reduced the deficit after 67 minutes but the 10-man Dons were unable to find a second to grab an unlikely point.
It was Aberdeen’s third defeat of the season to Rangers, who moved 22 points clear at the summit.
The Dons made three changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Dundee United with Dean Campbell, Scott Wright and Sam Cosgrove replacing Niall McGinn, Matty Kennedy and Ross McCrorie, who was ineligible to play against his parent club.
Rangers made only one alteration from the side that beat Celtic 1-0 with the injured Kemar Roofe replaced by Ianis Hagi.
The game exploded into life early on with both sides guilty of passing up great chances in the opening minutes.
Morelos failed to capitalise on a defensive lapse by Ash Taylor with his weak effort dealt with by Joe Lewis before a swift Aberdeen counter-attack culminated in Cosgrove firing high and wide.
Hagi sent a ferocious dipping effort inches over the crossbar after being afforded far too much space on the edge of the Aberdeen penalty area.
Aberdeen were fortunate not to go behind after 23 minutes when Jonny Hayes cleared a Kent effort off the line and Lewis made a superb stop to deny Tavernier on the rebound.
But life got a lot tougher for the Dons soon after when Hedges was sent off for tripping Morelos as he bore down on goal.
Tavernier had scored nine penalties in a row but was unable to convert on this occasion, sliding the ball wide of the post.
But only four minutes after missing the penalty, the visitors opened the scoring with Tavernier and Kent linking up to work the ball to Morelos who manufactured a yard of space in the penalty area with a neat touch before slotting low beyond Lewis.
Rangers were furious Aberdeen were not reduced to nine men four minutes before the interval when Main caught Borna Barisic high and late but the Dons striker was only booked by referee John Beaton and was promptly substituted for Shay Logan at the next break in play.
Rangers took only five minutes of the second half to double their advantage with Joe Aribo’s driven cross flicked into the path of Morelos by Kent and the striker fired home.
Only an outstanding save from Lewis prevented Kent from grabbing a spectacular third as Rangers tried to kill off the game.
But, totally against the run of play, Aberdeen found a way back into the match as they caught the Rangers defence out of position with Hayes teeing up the unmarked Kennedy to slot home.
The visitors pushed for a third but Lewis produced another excellent save to thwart Glen Kamara.