Football: Dons' plight deteriorates

Rangers 3 Mols 16, 47 Albertz pen 85 Aberdeen 0 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 49,226
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The Independent Online
MICHAEL MOLS is the perfect host, unless you happen to come from Aberdeen. The Rangers striker's own personal fan club flew over from Holland for this match and Mols obliged with two more goals which confirm his superstar status around Ibrox.

The 170 Dutchmen who came to Glasgow are all converts from the club Mols left in the summer for pounds 4m, Utrecht, so they will not have the historical knowledge to understand just how this defeat encapsulates Aberdeen's decline.

Still to score a goal, the club which won the Cup-Winners' Cup under Alex Ferguson now possess the worst start in the Scottish Premier League's 25 year-history. Jorg Albertz's 85th-minute penalty, after Russell Anderson had brought down Gabriel Amato, sealed a sixth successive defeat and eclipsed Hamilton's start in 1986.

No goals and no points added up to no ambition as soon as Ebbe Skovdahl's side stepped on to the Ibrox pitch, with a defensive formation that betrayed their intention merely to avoid a mauling. The lone Aberdeen striker was Eoin Jess, who had found himself in a controversial and uncomfortable situation on Friday when Dick Advocaat, the Rangers manager, inadvertently admitted to "tapping" the player in an attempt to lure him to the Champions.

"We spoke to the player but not the club," Advocaat said on television, adding that he believes Jess would be a better player in a better team. Presumably, though, no one mentioned to the Dutchman that such actions are illegal in this country.

Jess, caught in close-up by the cameras, cut an uncomfortable figure as he stared up at his image on the giant Ibrox screens, and his team- mates soon matched him for discomfort as they were put through the mill by Rangers.

McCann and Lorenzo Amoruso went close with headers before the dyke was breached by a Dutchman in the 16th minute. Barry Ferguson swung in a diagonal ball which Gabriel Amato cleverly laid off into a cavernous space behind him on the edge of the box: the void was soon filled by Mols, who arrived like a train to thrash a low, right-foot shot just inside goalkeeper David Preece's right-hand post for the eighth goal of his short Rangers career.

Aberdeen had paid the penalty of defending too deep and they appeared to learn the lesson, because for the rest of the half - apart from one shot by Amato which Preece beat out - they restricted Rangers, but it was mere damage limitation.

However, if ever a cameo summed up Aberdeen's current plight, it was there for all to see in the 49th minute when Mols doubled Rangers' lead. There was consummate professionalism in the way the Champions persisted even after they had seemingly been denied three times, but, from Aberdeen's point of view, the goal encapsulated their flagging spirit and wretched luck.

Jess, shoulders drooping, gave the ball away cheaply in the centre circle, revealing his disenchanted state of mind. Amoruso threaded the ball through to Mols, who nutmegged Anderson and was poised to pull the trigger when the Aberdeen defender rescued the situation with an admirable recovery. Rangers, though, were not to be denied.

Amato chased to collect the loose ball and cut into the box before firing a fierce shot which Preece splendidly palmed away. Even when McCann collected the rebound, Gary Smith blocked the forward's shot but the ball came back out to Mols, who buried it, and Aberdeen, with one firm swing of his left boot.