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Rangers 1-0 Aberdeen – The Verdict: Player ratings, talking points and star man as Dons’ winning streak ends

Aberdeen remain in pole position to finish third in the Premiership despite losing 1-0 to Rangers at Ibrox to end a seven-game winning streak.

Rangers' Robby McCrorie makes a save to deny Aberdeen's Duk in the first half at Ibrox. 
(Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Rangers' Robby McCrorie makes a save to deny Aberdeen's Duk in the first half at Ibrox. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Aberdeen’s red-hot winning streak came to an end as they were edged out 1-0 by Rangers at Ibrox.

The Dons were gunning for an eighth straight victory but went down to a second half volley from Todd Cantwell.

Cantwell’s goal ended Aberdeen’s proud defensive record of five successive clean sheets.

Aberdeen travelled to Ibrox with confidence sky high after a seven-game winning streak, the club’s longest run of victories since 2015.

However they were unable to extend that run in Barry Robson’s first game since signing a two-year contract to manage Aberdeen until at least the end of the 2024-25 season.

Aberdeen were gunning back-to-back wins over Rangers having triumphed 2-0 at Pittodrie two weeks ago.

It wasn’t to be for Robson’s Reds.

Aberdeen spurned two clear chances to go ahead in the first-half through Duk.

Goal hero Duk was played through on goal twice only to spurn both opportunities.

Aberdeen have now failed to win in nine Premiership games at Ibrox, dating back to a 1-0 defeat in December 2018.

Rangers’ Todd Cantwell and Aberdeen’s Duk battle for the ball at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

The cross-bar denied Rangers in the 49th minute when Jonny Hayes attempted to clear a Fashion Sakala low shot from close range.

Hayes’ sliced clearance from four yards cracked off the underside of the bar.

Talking points

A loss but Aberdeen remain in pole position to finish third

This is the first setback in more than two months since Barry Robson sparked a rapid rise from the bottom six up the table.

However the Dons remain in pole position to finish third in the Premiership with just four games remaining.

Third-placed Aberdeen remain five points clear of fourth-placed Hearts who lost 2-0 at home to Celtic.

Finishing third will bring group stage European football until December and a cash prize of around £3million – should Celtic win the Scottish Cup.

Rangers’ Todd Cantwell celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen. Image: SNS.

Although the Dons’ winning streak came to an end there were positives to take from this match.

Aberdeen managed Robson are a different proposition at Ibrox to the team that suffered a chastening 4-1 defeat in October under former boss Jim Goodwin.

Goodwin opted to go gung-ho in Govan and paid the price with the holes in his squad ruthlessly exploited despite going 1-0 up.

Robson brings a far more balanced and measured approach by allowing teams like Rangers to have possession, but do little with it.

There is a calmness not to overly push a game or panic in the bid to get a win under Robson, coupled with an aggression to rapidly step the tempo up when it matters.

Aberdeen’s Luis Lopes (L) and Rangers’ Connor Goldson in action at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen are set up to hit teams on the transitions and counter-attacks.

It worked in the 2-0 win two weeks ago at Pittodrie.

It almost paid off in Glasgow.

And it will be frustrating to Robson that the Dons conceded from a set-piece corner with Cantwell volleying home a James Tavernier delivery.

It was the first time Aberdeen had conceded since a 3-1 win against Dundee United, which was from a penalty.

The Dons had not leaked a goal from open play in 695 minutes of action, until Cantwell volleyed home.

Aberdeen’s Duk challenges Connor Goldson of Rangers at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

Defender Angus MacDonald should earn Scotland call-up

Aberdeen defender Angus MacDonald would be a positive addition to the Scotland international set-up.

Centre-back MacDonald recently revealed he is targeting a call-up into Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad.

The 30-year-old, who was born in Winchester, qualifies for Scotland through his Scottish grandfather Jimmy from Inverness.

Experienced stopper MacDonald was at the heart of a three man back-line alongside Mattie Pollock (right) and Liam Scales (left) at Ibrox.

MacDonald’s form deserves to be on Clarke’s radar.  Although the Dons’ clean sheet run ended he delivered another rock solid shift.

Aberdeen’s Angus MacDonald against Rangers at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

MacDonald had helped the Dons rack up six clean sheets in the last seven games before conceding at Ibrx.

The composure MacDonald brings to the defence was perfectly summed up in the 59th minute when Fashion Sakala attempted to burst past him into the box.

MacDonald ushered him into the route he wanted the striker to take then dispossessed him with a perfectly timed tackle.

The Dons defender then looked up, assessed the pitch, then delivered a cutting pass to Duk to instigate a counter-attack.

MacDonald has been in superb form since signing on transfer deadline in the January window following his exit from Swindon Town.

The defender recently penned a two-year contract extension tying him to Pittodrie until summer 2025.

MacDonald, who has previously represented England at U16, 18 and C level, was on the the brink of receiving a Scotland call-up before being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2019.

Scotland boss Clarke was at Pittodrie to witness MacDonald play a pivotal role in a 2-0 defeat of Rangers in the previous game to the trip to Ibrox.

On this form surely MacDonald deserves a call-up.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke at Pittodrie watching Aberdeen recently defeat Rangers 2-0. Image: SNS.

Duk’s finishing touch deserts him in front of goal

Star striker Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes’ scoring touch deserted him at Ibrox as the Cape Verde international spurned two clear chances in the first half.

On Thursday night Duk completed a clean sweep of the club’s player of the year awards.

He should have added to his tally of 18 goals for the season in all competitions.

First Bojan Miovski broke upfield on the counter-attack before squaring a pass to Duk in the 28th minute.

The Rangers’ defence were ripped apart by the speed and decisiveness of the counter-attack.

Miovski squared a pass across goal to Duk who had raced into an unmarked position at the back post.

Aberdeen’s Duk during the 1-0 loss to Rangers. Image: SNS.

However Duk’s 12-yard shot was blocked by the leg of keeper Robby McCrorie and sent spinning behind for a corner.

In the 44th minute Duk had arguably an even better opportunity after again linking up with strike partner Miovski.

North Macedonian international Miovski sprung the offside trap with a perfectly weighted through ball to the onrushing Duk.

Breaking in on goal Duk had only the onrushing keeper McCrorie to beat.

He opted to go for an audacious chip on the run from 20 yards but the shot went just over.

Perhaps it would have been more effective shooting it low to the side of McCrorie.

Despite the costly misses Duk still had an impressive contribution to the game.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson and assistant Steve Agnew at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

He ran himself into the ground for the cause and defended from the front.

On one occasion early in the second half he lost possession at the edge of the Rangers’ penalty area.

He then powered 40 yards in an attempt to win it back.

Duk caused problems with his pace, movement, aggression and skill.

All that was missing was the finishing touch to convert his big chances.

Talking tactics

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson made one enforced change to the starting XI that had defeated Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox.

Ross McCrorie dropped out due to a hernia problem with Hayden Coulson coming in to fill the right wing-back role.

It was Coulson’s first start since being involved in a 17-vehicle collision on the A92 in March.

Robson slightly tweaked his formation from the 3-4-1-2 that beat Rangers 2-0 at Pittodrie  to a 3-5-2 at Ibrox.

Aberdeen’s Hayden Coulson beats Rangers’ Rabbi Matondo to the ball at Ibrox. Image: SNS.

Teenager Ryan Duncan had played in the hole between a midfield four and attack at Pittodrie but dropped back deeper to make it five across midfield.

Robson played three at the back but it effectively became five when Rangers were in possession with wing-backs Coulson and Hayes dropping back to help.

Referee watch

John Beaton: Referee Beaton left manager Barry Robon raging when he waved off a penalty claim when Connor Goldson bundled Duk to the ground in the first half.

Robson was frustrated there was no VAR review.

Beaton chalked off a goal for Rangers at 0-0 for offside and the decision was proven right by a VAR review.

In a fierce rivalry that always has the potential to boil over Beaton prevented that from happening.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski clashes with Rangers’ Todd Cantwell. Image: SNS.

Player ratings

Aberdeen FC (3-5-2)

Roos 8; Pollock 8, MacDonald 7, Scales 7; Coulson 7, Ramadani 7, Clarkson 7 (Bavidge 88), Duncan 7 (Barron 76), Hayes 7;  Miovski 7 (Watkins 76), Duk 7 (Morris 80)

Subs not used: Lewis, MacKenzie, Markanday, Richardson, Kennedy

Rangers FC (4-2-3-1)

McCrorie 7; Tavernier 7, Goldson 7, Davies 4 (Souttar 45), Yilmaz 7; Lundstram 7, Raskin  6 (Kamara 66); Cantwell 7, Hagi 6 (Wright 66), Matondo 6 (Morelos 66) Sakala 6 (Arfield 66).

Subs not used: McLaughlin, King, Devine, Lowry.

Attendance: 46,961

Star man

Mattie Pollock- The on-loan centre-back threw himself into last gasp challenges and made key blocks.

He also posed a threat from set-pieces and had a header from a corner saved.