Goals from Jean-Claude Darcheville and Kris Boyd secured a 2-0 win for Rangers over Aberdeen as the Dons 17-year wait for a win at Ibrox continues.
The Frenchman, making a rare start, gave Rangers the lead soon after the break before Boyd scored his 11th Scottish Premier League goal of the season. The win leaves Rangers four points behind Old Firm rivals Celtic, who earlier defeated St Mirren 3-1 to record their 11th consecutive league win.
Rangers manager Walter Smith said his side had to work hard for their victory. "It was a difficult first half, and Aberdeen deserve a lot of credit for that. We took a little bit of time to get ourselves settled. I think in the second half we started to impose ourselves, and we got the goal which was a turning point in the game. When we got the second one, we were in better control of the match."
Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood thought his side had dominated the match for 60 minutes. "We dominated possession but didn't pressure them too much, and two scrappy goals have cost us the game," Calderwood said. "I always felt that if we could get a goal back we could nick something from the game."
Neither side created many chances in the first half, with Aberdeen enjoying the bulk of possession but failing to deliver in the final third of the pitch. Boyd was presented with a chance in the first minute; Pedro Mendes found the striker with a ball over the top but Boyd, usually deadly in the box, lobbed his effort over the bar when one-on-one with Jamie Langfield.
In the fourth minute, Kirk Broadfoot had to be alert to clear a Scott Severin throw-in off the line after it eluded everyone else in the box. Sone Aluko's pace had been causing problems for the Rangers defence and he came close with an effort that zipped past the post in the 22nd minute, but he had already been flagged for offside.
In the 27th minute Mendes sent Northern Ireland forward Kyle Lafferty clear down the right wing. His pass found Boyd, but his shot from the edge of the box was well wide and didn't cause any problems for Langfield. Rangers captain Barry Ferguson came close after 30 minutes when his glancing header from a Darcheville cross went inches wide of the far post.
Aberdeen registered the first shot on target in the 45th minute. Scotland striker Lee Miller let fly with a shot while on the deck in the box, but Allan McGregor did well to knock it away. Seconds later Langfield had to stretch to tip Lee Mair's header over the bar as he defended a Charlie Adam free-kick.
Rangers reappeared after the break fired up, and should have taken the lead in the 47th minute. Boyd found Darcheville in the box with a clever pass but his shot on the turn was stopped by the legs of Langfield.
The Frenchman soon made amends for the miss when he gave Rangers the lead in the 52nd minute. Charlie Adam's corner was knocked on by Boyd and Darcheville slid in amongst a number of bodies on the line to scramble it home.
Rangers doubled their lead just a minute later. An Adam corner was dummied by Lafferty, and Boyd headed it past the diving Langfield. Adam came close with a free-kick in the 85th minute as the home side dominated the final minutes.
In the early kick-off Celtic beat St Mirren 3-1 on their last ever visit to Love Street. Returning Celtic keeper Artur Boruc was lucky to escape a red card for a late tackle on St Mirren striker Craig Dargo in a goalless first half. Celtic striker Georgios Samaras broke the deadlock before Shunsuke Nakamura and Cillian Sheridan made sure of the points. Jim Hamilton scored a late consolation for the Buddies.
At Fir Park goals from John Rankin, Dean Shiels, Steven Fletcher and Derek Riordan secured a 4-1 win for Hibernian over Motherwell. Bob Malcolm scored for the home side.
Bruno Aguiar and Andrew Driver scored to give Hearts a 2-1 win over Falkirk after Steve Lovell had given the Bairns the lead.
Goals from Doug Imrie and Gary Wood gave Inverness a 2-1 away win over Kilmarnock. Willie Gibson scored late on for Killie who also missed a penalty.
Hamilton secured a 1-1 draw away to Dundee United with Richard Offiong's effort cancelled out by a late goal from Darren Dods.