Bully, bitchy, irritable. The Rangers won’t care. Philippe Clement’s side survived a grueling League Cup final to ensure the trophy was housed at Ibrox for the first time since the 2010/11 season. This latest victory is significant for Clement, coming just two months after his appointment.
The Rangers deserved their win based on their approach alone. They at least played with elements of attacking intent. Aberdeen’s drug policy was neither attractive nor effective.
It was only when James Tavernier scored the first goal for Rangers that Aberdeen moved into the lead. Even then, the Rangers didn’t seem overly concerned. Aberdeen supporters will ponder what might have been.
Tavernier’s late intervention came as Rangers appeared to be running out of ideas. The captain found himself completely isolated at the back post, where he met a cross from Borna Barisic before finishing past Kelle Roos. The Aberdeen goalkeeper will feel he should have done more with the goal.
The opening phase was characterized by a lack of scoring opportunities. The Rangers dominated possession but rarely saw Roos’ goal. Clement’s team should have broken the deadlock in stoppage time, but instead Ross McCausland headed over from Todd Cantwell’s cross. Previously, McCausland had the ball in the net, but the whistle was rightly blown for a foul.
Free kicks from Tavernier and Barisic were directed wide by Roos as Rangers piled on the pressure after the break. The Aberdeen goalkeeper had cleverly saved McCausland and Cyriel Dessers. In their best moment of attacking play, Aberdeen saw a wonderful cross from Nicky Devlin somehow evade everyone in the six-yard area.
Tavernier, a prolific goalscorer at full-back, punished Aberdeen’s lack of ingenuity. Clement has made his first official statement of intent.