Dons dent Rangers title hopes
Rangers missed the chance to go top of the Scottish Premier League after they were held to a goalless draw by Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday. With Celtic not playing until later in the afternoon Rangers had the chance to put pressure on their rivals by picking up the win that would have seen them go top.
But having not won at Pittodrie in their last four visits Rangers manager Walter Smith opted for the cautious approach and played a five-man midfield, with top-scorer Kris Boyd dropping to the bench. Chances were few and far between in the match and both sides had to settle for a point, which leaves Rangers four points behind Celtic after they defeated Hibernian 3-1.
Rangers manager Walter Smith said he was disappointed not to pick up all three points. "I think we did very well today and dominated most of the possession of the ball after a scrappy opening ten minutes.
"It was a pleasing performance from us in what was always going to be a hard game for us but I'm disappointed we didn't take any of the opportunities we had." Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood was delighted to take a point from the game.
"We didn't deserve any more from the game and it could be an important point at the end of the season. "Rangers caused us problems with their system and personnel and I don't think we ever got into the match really."
The home side started brightly and came close to opening the scoring in the ninth minute from a curling Charlie Mulgrew free-kick which Allan McGregor did well to force round the post for a corner. Darren Mackie was next to try his luck in the 14th minute but his shot on the bounce from outside the box was straight at McGregor.
Rangers, who played Kenny Miller on his own up front, were struggling to create chances and their first effort came from John Fleck. The 17-year-old, making only his second start, collected a cross field pass from Kirk Broadfoot, cut inside and drove into the box but his shot sailed well over the bar.
Lee McCulloch had their first shot on target after 28 minutes. Jamie Langfield couldn't hold the midfielder's powerful drive from 25 yards but incredibly Miller completely missed the rebound, with only the flag for offside sparing his blushes.
In the 34th minute Miller again missed a golden chance to put Rangers ahead when he headed over the bar from a Broadfoot cross under no pressure. The Dons were forced into an early change in the second-half when Langfield was replaced by Bertrand Bossu after the keeper took a knock on the head from Miller as he dived at the Scottish striker's feet in the box.
The home fans were screaming for a penalty in the 61st minute when Lee Miller and Stuart Duff both went down in the box after their shirts appeared to pulled, but referee Calum Murray waved their protests away.
With six minutes left substitute Nacho Novo came close. The Spaniard controlled a Pedro Mendes cross from the right on his chest before firing his volley into the side netting. Boyd then connected with a Sasa Papac inswinging cross in the box but his header took a deflection and went straight to Bossu.
In the 89th minute Mackie was inches away from clinching the game for Aberdeen but his header went just by the post from a Mulgrew cross.
Australian striker Scott McDonald scored a double as Celtic defeated Hibs 3-1 at Parkhead. Stephen McManus got the other while Rob Jones scored for Hibs. David Clarkson and Dean Holden scored as Motherwell and Falkirk drew 1-1. A Warren Feeney double helped Dundee United move up to third with a 3-2 win over St Mirren. A last minute Laryea Kingston goal gave Hearts a 3-2 win over bottom club Inverness Caledonian Thistle.