Football: McCall delivers to deny Dons

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The Independent Online
Rangers. . . . . . 1

McCall 13

Aberdeen. . . . . .1

Kane 78

Attendance: 45,888

RANGERS, the dominant force in Scottish football, survived Aberdeen's powerful second-half display and continue to move towards a place in the record books.

With the League Cup already back in the Ibrox trophy room Rangers are still likely to become the first team to win back-to-back trebles. They play Kilmarnock next Sunday in the Scottish Cup semi-final and - with Motherwell also drawing yesterday - they remain five points clear as the Premier Division championship, which they have won five times in succession, enters the closing stages.

Aberdeen, seven points behind Rangers, had to win at Ibrox to have a realistic chance of bridging the gap, but their task became even more difficult after only 13 minutes when Stuart McCall scored. It was a gem of a goal, too. Mark Hateley rose above his marker, Brian Irvine, and nodded on to Ally McCoist, who was alert to McCall's run from deep in midfield and knocked the ball inside. McCall controlled without breaking stride and then scored in off the base of John Burridge's left-hand post. Burridge, a man of many clubs, was making his debut for Aberdeen at the age of 42. He was preferred to the youngster Derek Stillie, who had been standing in for the injured first- choice goalkeeper, Theo Snelders, but as he rummaged about in the back of his net to retrieve McCall's shot Burridge may have questioned the logic in extending his career.

However, he was never bothered much after that as Rangers seemed to believe they had done enough, an attitude which infuriated their manager, Walter Smith, who became more animated as the match progressed.

Aberdeen introduced another debutant, Ray McKinnon, signed a few weeks ago from Nottingham Forest, but he failed miserably to make any impact wide on the left, although along with his team- mates he warmed to the task in the second half.

Rangers withdrew McCoist and sent on Alexei Mikhailichenko to try to win back the midfield, but the Pittodrie side continued to sweep forward and were rewarded in 78 minutes when Paul Kane, who started a sweet move on the left, also finished off with a venomous shot into the roof of Andy Goram's net.

Unfortunately for the inconsistent Dons it is probably too little too late.