Fri. Aug 14th, 2020

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Kent hands Rangers winning start at Aberdeen

4 min read

Rangers made a winning start in their bid to stop Celtic winning a record 10th successive Scottish Premiership title with a 1-0 victory at Aberdeen.

After almost five months since last season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ryan Kent’s 21st-minute opener set Steven Gerrard’s side on their way to an opening-day victory.

At an empty Pittodrie, Rangers had to survive a goalmouth scramble in the second half but they were not really tested by Aberdeen, who had Andrew Considine sent off late on for a studs-up challenge on Scott Arfield.

Rangers held on for a hard-fought three points and can now sit back and watch on as the rest of the Scottish Premiership clubs get their campaigns underway, including Celtic, who face Hamilton on Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick off 4.30pm).

Sunday 2nd August 3:30pm Kick off 4:30pm

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How Rangers got up and running…

preview image 0:18
Kent scores to break the deadlock

After 142 days in lockdown, the Ibrox side got off to just the start they were looking for on their return to competitive action for the first time since March’s Europa League defeat by Bayer Leverkusen.

For all their possession, however, it took 21 minutes for Rangers to create the game’s first chance – but Kent made no mistake in front of goal.

Player ratings

Aberdeen: Lewis (6), Hernandez (6), Taylor (8), McKenna (7), Considine (5), Ojo (6), Ferguson (6), Bryson (5), Hayes (6), Kennedy (5), Anderson (5).

Subs: Edmondson (6), McGinn (6), Hedges (6), Campbell (n/a).

Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (7), Goldson (7), Balogun (8), Barisic (7), Kamara (6), Jack (7), Aribo (7), Hagi (6), Kent (8), Morelos (6).

Subs: Arfield (n/a).

Man of the match: Ryan Kent

Alfredo Morelos, who has been linked with a move to Lille, had time to turn and play the ball through for Kent, who beat the offside trap before coolly finishing past Joe Lewis.

More on this story

Lewis pulled off another routine save from a Ianis Hagi strike before half-time, but Gerrard would have been quietly content with his side’s first 45 minutes back in action.

The second half was not quite as comfortable, however.

There’s a huge scramble inside the Rangers six-yard box as Aberdeen try and force the ball home for an equaliser

There were worried looks on the Rangers bench when Leon Balogun’s face smashed into a post as he tangled with Scott McKenna after a goal mouth scramble which could have seen Aberdeen equalise.

Hagi’s deflected drive then flew just wide before he slid in Morelos, but the striker was denied by a crucial block from Ash Taylor.

Team news

  • Bruce Anderson got the nod to lead the line for Aberdeen ahead of new Leeds loanee Ryan Edmondson, with Sam Cosgrove and Curtis Main injured.
  • Steven Gerrard handed Alfredo Morelos a start, despite heavy speculation about a potential move to Lille. But George Edmundson was dropped to the bench as Leon Balogun came in for his Rangers debut.

Aberdeen’s hopes of piling the pressure on in the final stages were ended when Considine flew in on Arfield with his studs showing, earning a straight red from referee Bobby Madden.

Rangers were inches away from making it two in stoppage time when Joe Aribo’s shot was expertly blocked on line by Taylor, and it didn’t prove to be costly as Gerrard’s men held on for a winning start.

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Aberdeen’s Andrew Considine is shown a straight red card for a studs up challenge on Scott Arfield

What the managers said

Steven Gerrard
Image: Steven Gerrard was pleased with his side’s work rate

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes on Kent’s match-winning goal: “People will look at my centre-backs but I don’t blame them at all. The press has to come further up the pitch, when James Tavernier gets the ball he must be shown down the line. We allowed that pass to come inside and as soon as that happens you are susceptible to what happened.

“If we press right, our centre-backs are expecting the ball down the channel and we would have dealt with that and not lost that goal.”

preview image 3:19
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt that his side did not do enough to test the Rangers’ defence in their 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: “I’m really pleased. It’s a good team performance. Of course, we could have killed the game off and got that second goal but overall I thought we came here really organised. I thought first half we played some outstanding football and at times in the second half we had to grind. Aberdeen are never going to make it comfortable for you.

“But I’m pleased we showed signs today that we’re capable of staying in there and getting over the line, which is the most important thing.”

preview image 2:44
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard was pleased with his side’s resilience against Aberdeen as they came away from Pittodrie with all three points

Man of the match – Ryan Kent

Ryan Kent celebrates with Alfredo Morelos after scoring for Rangers 2:11
Ally McCoist believes Rangers will sell Alfredo Morelos if they get the right offer and can buy a suitable goal-scoring replacement

What’s next?

Rangers celebrate Ryan Kent's goal against Aberdeen
Image: Rangers celebrate Kent’s goal

Rangers have a European assignment in midweek when they face Bayer Leverkusen at the Bay Arena in the second leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie. The Bundesliga side lead 3-1 from the first leg at Ibrox, one of the final matches before lockdown.

Gerrard’s side are back in Scottish Premiership action on Sunday August 9 when they face St Mirren at Ibrox.

Aberdeen face a trip to St Johnstone next Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football from 12pm; kick off 12.30pm.

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