McNaughton's misfortune helps Rangers' title tilt

Aberdeen 1 Rangers 2
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The Independent Online

An unfortunate own goal from Kevin McNaughton handed Rangers a hard-earned success at Pittodrie yesterday that cut the gap on Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League to three points.

An unfortunate own goal from Kevin McNaughton handed Rangers a hard-earned success at Pittodrie yesterday that cut the gap on Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League to three points.

The Scotland full-back turned Fernando Ricksen's corner into his net after just 15 minutes, but that moment was all that separated the sides after a torrid encounter. It gave Rangers a two-goal cushion, after Dado Prso had scored after eight minutes, and though Darren Mackie swiftly cut the deficit, Aberdeen could not beat Stefan Klos again.

"It was tough to watch the second half," admitted McLeish. "If we have ambitions of winning the title, we have to come to a hard venue like this and win."

Rangers looked as if they would walk all over the home side after Prso struck so early. The Croatian striker showed fine control to kill Bojan Djordjic's cross and turn Russell Anderson before beating Ryan Esson with an angled shot.

Seven minutes later, Ricksen's inswinging corner was punched by Esson straight at the luckless McNaughton, who saw the ball rebound off his head into the net.

Four minutes later Aberdeen scored, Mackie finishing off a fine move between Noel Whelan and McNaughton to steer the latter's cutback in off the underside of the bar.

Nacho Novo might have extended Rangers' lead again when he pounced on a dreadful back-pass by Whelan but his shot stayed out after hitting the inside of the post. Whelan then failed to conjure up an equaliser when Mackie's cross on 45 minutes saw him hit a tame volley straight at Klos.

The second half was, in contrast, a defensive stalemate but Rangers will not care about that.

Goals: Prso (9) 0-1; McNaughton og (16) 0-2; Mackie (19) 1-2.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Esson; Hart, Diamond, Anderson, McNaughton; Clark, Heikkinen, Winter (Muirhead, 73), Foster (Stewart, 80); Whelan (Kristjansson, 68), Mackie. Substitutes not used: Ilic (gk), Adams, Pasquinelli, Morrison.

Rangers (3-4-3): Klos; Andrews, Malcolm, Vignal; Ross, Ricksen, Rae, Djordjic (Thompson, 55); Novo, Prso (Namouchi, 81), Buffel (Hughes, 71). Substitutes not used: McGregor (gk), Burke, Ball, Thompson, Hutton, Hughes, Namouchi.

Referee: D McDonald.

Booked: Aberdeen: McNaughton, Clark, Whelan, Hart. Rangers: Vignal, Namouchi.

Man of the match: Mackie.

Attendance: 17,459.

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