Vital 2-1 Win At Pittodrie For Rangers

Last updated : 23 January 2005 By Southside Johnny

Aberdeen 1 (Mackie 19) Rangers 2 (Prso 8, McNaughton (15 og))

Attendance 17,495

Manager Alex McLeish made two changes from last week
with Dado Prso and Nacho Novo replacing Steven
Thompson and Hamed Namouchi.

Rangers went into today’s game, their fourth of the
season at Pittodrie, having won just one of their last
five away games, yet unbeaten against Aberdeen for
more than five years, almost seven in League fixtures.

Play got under way in driving, icy rain – but the
visitors, wearing all-white, soon warmed up their vast
travelling support by opening the scoring in eight
minutes when Dado Prso shrugged off the challenge of
Kevin McNaughton from a Bojan Djordjic cross before
netting via an upright from almost the same spot that
he had scored from seven weeks ago against Inverness
Caledonian Thistle.

Nacho Novo, back from suspension, skinned Michael Hart
six minutes later from an Alex Rae pass only to see
his low drive deflected wide by home goalkeeper Ryan

The resultant corner however saw Fernando Ricksen’s
kick find Esson under pressure from Prso, the
goalkeeper flapping at the ball and palming it onto
the head of team-mate McNaughton and into the net to
put Rangers 2-0 ahead.

Aberdeen were undaunted despite this double setback –
three minutes later Darren Mackie’s fifteen-yard
effort was beaten away by Stefan Klos, but when the
loose ball fell to McNaughton from a Heikkinen
back-heel the full-back squared across the face of
goal for Mackie to score via the underside of the

A dramatic game was raining goals at this stage, but
as the weather dried up so too did the goals as both
defences tightened up.

Prso was inches wide on the half-hour mark with a
header from a Ricksen free-kick.

Rangers should have regained their two-goal advantage
in 42 minutes when a Noel Whelan pass-back went astray
– right into the path of Novo who rounded Esson before
striking the inside of the post from an acute angle.

That miss almost proved costly – two minutes later a
Mackie cross found Whelan whose shot was touched wide
by Klos.

2-1 ahead at the interval, the Ibrox men suffered an
injury blow when Djordjic was stretchered off with a
knee injury, being replaced by Thompson in 55 minutes.

Two minutes later Klos had to be alert to hold a
vicious inswinging free-kick from Richard Foster.

Further substitutions saw Stephen Hughes and Hamed
Namouchi replace Thomas Buffel and Dado Prso in 70 and
80 minutes respectively.

The second-half had developed into very much a
midfield battle with defences on top, but as the final
whistle approached both sides went all out for the
crucial fourth goal – Novo’s shot from a Ricksen pass
being held by Esson in 82 minutes.

Two minutes later Chris Clark’s effort from the edge
of the box skimmed the crossbar after Maurice Ross had
missed a Michael Hart cross.

Rangers had a strong penalty claim denied in 85
minutes when Russell Anderson pulled back Novo as the
forward worked his way towards goal, but the points
should have been sealed two minutes later when
Namouchi, clean through on a Thompson pass, somehow
shot wide of the target.

Referee Dougie McDonald’s final whistle confirmed a
crucial win for the Light Blues, and afterwards Alex
McLeish reflected:

“We eventually had to grind out the win, having lost a
bad goal after going 2-0 up. We started with a
brilliant attitude. Pittodrie is always a hard venue,
but we gave a resilient performance today.”

Interestingly Dons’ Manager Jimmy Calderwood praised
the performance of Thomas Buffel:

“He caused us all sorts of problems in the first
twenty minutes until I moved Markus Heikkinen to
man-mark him.”

ABERDEEN Esson; Hart, Diamond, Anderson, McNaughton;
Clark, Winter (Muirhead 72), Heikkinen, Foster
(Stewart 79); Mackie, Whelan (Kristjansson 68)
UNUSED SUBS Ilic, Adams, Pasquinelli, Morrison

RANGERS Klos; Ross, Andrews, Malcolm, Vignal; Ricksen,
Buffel (Hughes 70), A. Rae. Djordjic (Thompson 55);
Prso (Namouchi 80), Novo
UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Burke, Ball, Hutton

REFEREE Dougie McDonald