Rangers managed to secure a massive win at Pittodrie in a fascinating clash with Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen that will live long in the memory.
A double from Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier’s penalty and Jermain Defoe’s late goal secured the three points that keep the Gers title hopes alive.
Steven Gerrard’s side made three changes to the side that beat St. Mirren at the weekend with Connor Goldson, Ryan Jack and Daniel Candeias replacing Niko Katic, Steve Davis and Defoe.
Both sides looked to get forward in the opening spell without ever really creating a clear-cut chance.
Morelos had the first proper chance to open the scoring when he dragged his shot just wide of the far post after some good link-up play with Ryan Jack.
The Colombian did break the deadlock five minutes later when he stroked home the rebound from Ryan Kent’s shot.
Instead of taking control of the game, the Gers let Aberdeen back into it and the Dons levelled the score after 30 minutes through Sam Cosgrove.
The ball fell to the Aberdeen striker a few yards out and he fired beyond McGregor.
Parity didn’t last long though as Morelos popped up with a fantastic finish from the edge of the box on 37 minutes. Kent’s pass found El Buffalo and he curled the ball around Lewis.
Just before half-time, it was 3-1 when James Tavernier scored from the penalty spot.
There was a second penalty just after half-time – but this time it was for the hosts.
James Tavernier hauled down Lewis Ferguson and Cosgrove fired home the spot-kick.
Then all hell broke loose.
Bobby Madden flashed red cards at Morelos and Scott McKenna after the pair clashed and McKenna kicked out at the striker.
Morelos didn’t seem to do much wrong and it’s now his third red card in four games against the Dons this season.
Aberdeen took the initiative and tried to find an equaliser and kept the Gers pinned back for spells.
Gerrard was forced into a tactical tweak when he brought Niko Katic on to replace Ryan Kent.
The hosts kept up the pressure on Rangers and they had Allan McGregor to thank when he pulled off a fantastic reflex save with a few minutes left.
Substitute Defoe finally killed the game off in injury time when the veteran striker made it 4-2 with a clever finish.
Here are Rangers News’ Player Ratings from an exhausting 90 minutes at Pittodrie:
Allan McGregor – 6
Couldn’t do much at the goal and was barely involved otherwise in the first-half. Got a touch on Cosgrove’s penalty and was busier in the second half. Incredible reaction save in the final few minutes as Aberdeen threw everything forward.
James Tavernier – 7
The captain tried to push the Gers forward and get down the right flank regularly. Scored from the penalty spot just before the break. Silly defending cost the Gers a penalty of their own.
Connor Goldson – 6
Defender returned to the side and looked like he’d never missed a minute. Goldson has been a big miss and it is good to see him back in the side. Made a number of important blocks as Aberdeen pushed forward after the red cards.
Joe Worrall – 6
Much-maligned defender done ok but was nothing spectacular. One or two shaky moments but dealt with most things Aberdeen had to throw at him.
Borna Barisic – 6
Croatian left-back is looking more comfortable with every game – gave the ball away in the build-up to the equaliser but a decent night overall.
Ryan Jack – 8
Former Aberdeen captain was the pantomime villain for the home fans but silenced them with a composed display in the middle of the park. Rarely wasted the ball and showed real maturity in his performance. Really starting to shine in the middle of the park for Rangers.
Ross McCrorie – 6
The combative midfielder was busy in the middle of the park as he mopped up in front of the back four. Didn’t do much wrong
Scott Arfield – 6
Arfield really put himself about as the Gers looked to dominate the midfield but nothing really came off for the midfielder. Can’t be faulted for his effort but needs to impose himself on games more. Replaced by Lassana Coulibaly with five minutes left.
Ryan Kent – 7
On-loan winger looked hungry to run at Aberdeen’s defenders and caused problems. Kent’s run then shot allowed Morelos to score the first goal of the game. Lovely pass found Morelos for the second and another impressive performance from Kent. Fell out of the game a little late on but another impressive performance from the winger. Replaced by Niko Katic for the final 10 minutes.
Daniel Candeias – 6
Fairly quiet night for Candeias. Worked hard with Tavernier down the right, subbed for Jermain Defoe and booked on the way off for wasting time.
Alfredo Morelos – 8
Colombian scored the opener after 20 minutes before restoring the Gers’ lead 17 minutes later. Ridiculously sent-off after a clash with Scott McKenna. When Andy Walker is saying a Rangers player is unlucky to be sent-off you know the ref has made a mess of it.
Jermain Defoe (7), Niko Katic (6), Lassana Coulibaly (6)