Rangers defeated Aberdeen 2-0 at Ibrox to extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League. Elsewhere in Scotland today, Inverness came from behind to defeat Hamilton 3-1, Hearts moved up to third with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone, Motherwell lost 2-1 to Hibernian and Kilmarnock drew 1-1 with Dundee United.
After their record 9-0 defeat from Celtic last weekend the signs looked ominous for Aberdeen when a Kenny Miller header and Vladimir Weiss cannonball put Rangers 2-0 up with just over 30 minutes played. However the Dons took encouragement when Jamie Langfield saved a Miller penalty minutes before the break and despite dominating the second period Rangers couldn't add to their lead. The win puts Rangers four points clear of Old Firm rivals Celtic, who are away to St Mirren on Sunday.
"Aberdeen set their stall out in a defensive manner which meant there was pressure on us to push people forward and get the win," said Rangers manager Walter Smith. "It sometimes takes a little bit to break that down but I was pleased about how we went about the game and just happy we managed to win."
After watching his side lose yet again Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee said his team can play a lot better. "We have a lot better in us than we showed," he said. "We have big games coming up and the fact we are not bottom is probably a good thing."
Rangers restricted the Dons to their own half early on but it took until the tenth minute for an effort on target. Steven Davis sent a lofted pass from the edge of the box to Lee McCulloch who saw his powerful header denied by a wonderful one-handed save from Langfield. The Rangers midfielder then saw a fierce low drive from 30 yards tipped round the post and from the resultant corner Miller sliced his shot wide.
The Scotland striker didn't have to wait long for another chance and headed Rangers into the lead in the 21st minute. Slovakian winger Weiss curled a pass to Miller in the box and the front man flicked an angled backwards header towards goal which wrong-footed Langfield and snuck in at the far post. The provider turned goalscorer in the 32nd minute when Weiss made it 2-0. Miller cut the ball back from the by-line to Fleck whose shot cannoned off Steven Whittaker back to Weiss who rifled a shot from the edge of the box past Langfield and Jerel Ifil on the line.
Whittaker earned Rangers a penalty in the 41st minute when he was brought down in the box after a good run down the right. Miller stepped up to take it but Langfield, who conceded three spot-kicks against Celtic last weekend, dived low to his left to turn his weak effort round the post. Miller nearly made amends six minutes after the break when he collected a Fleck pass wide left in the box and curled a shot on the turn just wide with Langfield beaten.
Chris Maguire teed up McArdle in a rare attack for Aberdeen but the defender blasted his shot well over. Only a superb save stopped Miller increasing the lead. He collected a Naismith pass and cut one way and then the other to leave Dons defenders chasing shadows before firing in an angled shot that Langfield tipped round the post. Substitute Gregg Wylde fizzed a shot over and McCulloch fired wide as Rangers couldn't find their way past a stubborn Dons defence.