Gers increase lead with Dons win

The victory may not have been quite as emphatic as Celtic’s 9-0
thrashing of the Dons seven days ago but was enough to allow the
Scottish champions to increase their lead at the summit to four
points. Goals from Kenny Miller and Vladimir Weiss sealed the win
for Walter Smith’s men, albeit Miller failed to covert from the
penalty spot just before the interval. Rangers made three changes
from the side who lost to Hibernian in midweek for the visit of
Aberdeen. Sasa Papac and Maurice Edu were both injured, with John
Fleck, Weiss and Kirk Broadfoot added to the team. Kyle Lafferty
apparently picked up an injury in the warm-up as Rangers named just
six substitutes. Aberdeen were boosted by the return of skipper
Paul Hartley but Darren Mackie missed out through injury and
Andrius Velicka was ineligible under the terms of his loan deal.
Rangers had the best of the chances early on, with Weiss trying his
luck with a shot that was smothered at the near post by goalkeeper
Jamie Langfield. Steven Davis then set up Lee McCulloch for a
header from point-blank range that the goalkeeper did well to
block. Steven Naismith picked up the first booking of the game for
a challenge on Chris Maguire, before Steven Whittaker rippled the
side netting with an angled drive. The breakthrough came after 22
minutes when Weiss cut inside from the left and lofted into the
path of Miller who sent a back header past the grasp of Langfield.
Maguire followed Whittaker into the referee’s book for a foul on
Weiss, before Rangers doubled their lead after 32 minutes. Miller’s
cutback found Fleck in the box but his effort was blocked before
falling for Weiss to unleash a ferocious shot that took a slight
deflection before nestling in the bottom corner. Rangers should
have increased their lead further four minutes before the break
when referee Calum Murray pointed to the spot after Zander Diamond
fouled Whittaker in the box. Miller stepped up for the spot-kick,
looking for his 16th of the season, but Langfield did well to dive
to his left and punch to safety. Aberdeen tried to win a penalty of
their own shortly after the restart when Scott Vernon went to
ground under pressure from Madjid Bougherra but the referee ignored
the claims. Miller could have made amends for his poor spot-kick
attempt with a well-struck shot that fizzed across the face of goal
and just past the post. Langfield was then called into action to
block a powerful free-kick from distance from Weiss, with the
winger also keen to add to his tally for the day. Rangers were
desperate for the third goal to snuff out any hope of a Dons
comeback and Bougherra found Miller with a lovely long ball and the
striker looked set to add to his tally only for Langfield to come
to the rescue. Miller then spurned another decent chance when he
collected a chipped cross from Whittaker only to stab wide from
just six yards out. Weiss was replaced by Gregg Wylde with 15
minutes to go and the youngster was not too far away when he met a
long, low corner from Fleck and rifled just over the crossbar.
Rangers were able to hold on for the win, while Hamilton’s defeat
to Inverness prevented Aberdeen from slipping to bottom of the
table.