It was yet another match where the decisions by the referee caused more controversy, and yet another match where the consistent cheating by Alfredo Morelos was plain clear to see except for the officials overseeing the game. Dons Denied in Midweek Rangers Encounter
Derek McInnes made one change to the team that beat Hibs at the weekend, with Stevie May dropped to the bench and Scott McKenna returning following his hamstring injury.
Thankfully, Sam Cosgrove and Joe Lewis were back, after being taken off during the Hibs match due to injury.
Aberdeen started well, but the opening tussles of the match were frustrating for both sides.
It wasn’t until midway through the first half until The Rangers went ahead in the 20th minutes after Ryan Kent’s shot from just inside the box was parried by Joe Lewis and Morelos stabbed the ball home from close range.
Ten minutes later, Sam Cosgrove levelled the score after a loose ball fell to Lewis Ferguson, who volley the shot from 25 yards, which was blocked and rebounded to Cosgrove who slotted the goal in from eight yards.
That score didn’t stay for long after Morelos got a second for The Rangers after the Colombian placed a low shot into the bottom left corner of the Dons goal.
It wasn’t surprising that a penalty was in the offing, after the four penalties awarded to The Rangers at the weekend against St Mirren, it was likely as always on these occasions that they would be awarded one.
And inevitably that came late in the first half after Bobby Madden awarded The Rangers a penalty, after Tavernier’s free-kick from the right was flicked on by Goldson and struck Scott McKenna’s raised hand at point-blank range – harsh considering how close the defender was to Goldson. Tavernier slotted home the penalty.
Aberdeen made a bright start to the second half, after being awarded a penalty after Tavernier wrestled Ferguson to the ground – Bobby Madden quite rightly pointed to the spot. Cosgrove stepped up to fire the penalty straight down the middle into goal, levelling the score at 2-2.
On 55 minutes, Aberdeen were reduced to ten men after McKenna beat Morelos to a ball in the box, Morelos challenged him, clearing the ball and kicked McKenna in the aftermath.
With McKenna on the ground he was deemed to have retaliated with a kick back – and Bobby Madden didn’t take long to show him the red card. However the antics of Morelos frustrated the Red Army after staying down, but checking where the ref was, knowing that eventually when he got over the play-acting he too was going to be shown red.
The Dons kept up the pressure though, and it was all them for the remainder of the half only for a late break on the counter attack after Tavernier fed sub Jermain Defoe who scored The Rangers fourth in the 94th minute.
A harsh outcome given how the Dons fought like hard and piled on the pressure on the second-half and there will be definitely ongoing talking points from this one.
Post match, Derek McInnes told the club website: “The last goal we’re not too disappointed with because we’re trying to throw everything at it to get the equaliser and were just caught with too many bodies up top.
“It was a game that had a bit of everything and didn’t disappoint in terms of the fixture.
“We’re disappointed we lost the game and I didn’t think there was a lot in the game in terms of the way it was played out in the first half. I thought Morelos was the difference and a constant menace who dragged our centre halves about. He was very good with the quality and his second finish was top class. You can pick the bones out of it and say we should have stopped him getting it into feet, but he still had a lot to do and sometimes you’ve got to applaud the play.
“I thought we were unfortunate with the penalty and I’m not saying it’s not a penalty. McKenna’s appealing for offside and his hand is up appealing and the ball’s skidded off either Max or Candeias’s head and hit him. There’s no real complaints but it’s just really unfortunate and unlucky.
“The response initially from going behind was really good. The game was a bit too open for my liking and the fixture can sometimes make it that with players losing discipline and running out of shape. I thought Rangers’ movement at the top end of the pitch, in particular Morelos, was very good.
“3-1 down at home to a good Rangers team who are good on the counter attack is a really tricky circumstance to try and deal with, but we asked the players to go try win that second half. Get the next goal and see what happens and I thought we were fantastic second half. We get the next goal and it was clearly a penalty with Tavernier bringing Ferguson down.
“Then the two players McKenna and Morelos get sent off.
“I thought it took a huge part away from Rangers and all of a sudden they were hanging on and it was all us second half. We threw everything at it, but for maybe another refereeing decision going our way with McGregor going through on Lewis Ferguson and us taking a wee bit more care with the rushed chances, we might have got an equaliser.
“A wee bit of luck and we might have just got something from that game. I’m disappointed not to take something from it, but not too disappointed with the reaction in the second half.
“I’ve not seen the red cards again, but I’ve spoke to my staff and they think the referee’s probably got both red cards right. If that is the case Scott’s been guilty of a bit of naivety by getting involved with Morelos who has previous for his antics.
“Rangers were winning the game so the onus was on us to do something about it. Rangers are a good team with good players and Steven’s put a good squad together, but Morelos is the star. When he’s on his game as he was tonight he’s difficult to deal with and when he went off I thought the game really swung and it felt like one way traffic.
“I can’t criticise and be too disappointed with the players reaction. I’m disappointed with a couple of the goals we lose and I think we needed that extra body through the middle second half. Hoban going in there made us better and we worked hard to get Greg Stewart central in that first half. I don’t like playing Greg out wide when he’s been so influential for us, but he was outstanding when he went out to wide so you can’t tell me he can’t play out there. He was outstanding and tortured Barisic second half.
“We were unlucky not to get something and on another night we maybe get something from that.
“It’s a sore one for us and we go five points behind Rangers. There’s still thirteen games to go and we’ll just knuckle down. There’s still lots of football to be played and we’ll remember tonight. We’ll use it as extra motivation and we’ll see where we end up at the end of the season.”