Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt encouraged by his side’s dogged display against Rangers, despite suffering a third successive defeat of the season to the Ibrox side.
The Reds were forced to play two-thirds of the match a man down after winger Ryan Hedges saw red for denying Alfredo Morelos a goalscoring opportunity.
Light Blues skipper James Tavernier missed the resulting penalty but a Morelos double earned Rangers a 15th consecutive league win with Matty Kennedy grabbing a late consolation for the Dons in the 2-1 defeat.
McInnes, whose side travel to in-form Livingston on Wednesday (7.45pm), said: “Everyone ahead of the back four gave a one and a half performance in terms of their output and they had to do that.
“The goal was a real shot in the arm for us and gave us the belief that we would get another chance in the game.
“We have lost but you can still take so much heart and encouragement from the level of performance from the players.
“They played the game the way it needed to be played in the second half and we just came up short, but it was not through a lack of effort.
“There was plenty of encouragement about the performance.”
McInnes was surprised by the controversy surrounding Curtis Main’s challenge on Rangers left-back Borna Barisic before the interval. The defender was furious after being caught late by the former Motherwell attacker but Main was shown only a yellow card by referee John Beaton.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard felt the challenge “looked a dangerous tackle” but refused to say whether it should have been a red card.
Dons manager McInnes, who substituted Main in the first break of play after the challenge with only a minute of the first half remaining, said: “It was a yellow card for me.
“Everyone is getting their knickers in a twist about it but I think it was a yellow card and no more.
“It was a robust challenge but it’s a yellow every day of the week, andI have seen it again.
“He goes in too aggressively, so it’s a booking, but he hasn’t hurt the boy, he’s fine. A lot of people are losing their marbles a bit (saying otherwise) but the right decision was made by the referee.
“The right decision was made when it was explained about the penalty and the right decision was made there.
“We were thinking of taking Curtis off anyway because we wanted a bit more speed in and around Sam Cosgrove.
“He was in there to do a specific job off Steven Davis and use the speed of Hedges and Scott Wright, but when Hedges went off we wanted to make the change.
“It was one we were going to make but the challenge may have accelerated that.”