Prso's double narrows gap on beaten Celtic

Aberdeen 1 - Rangers 3
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The Independent Football

Dado Prso reignited the flames of optimism for Rangers that they can yet snatch the Scottish Premier League title after scoring the two goals at Pittodrie that close the gap on Celtic to two points with three games left.

The giant Croatian atoned for the Old Firm defeat at the hands of their rivals just seven days earlier with the type of ruthless finishing that has caught the eye of Aston Villa, who are willing to pay £3m for him.

Alex McLeish's team took advantage of Celtic's stumble against Hibernian on Saturday in a robust performance that was topped by Prso's predatory zeal and the craft of Barry Ferguson, whose early goal set Rangers on their way.

Ferguson adjusted his feet on a dreadful, rain-sodden surface to take Prso's pass in his stride after 10 minutes, steering a fierce shot past goalkeeper Ryan Esson from the edge of the box. Ferguson was denied another goal, from a free-kick, by Esson touching the ball over the bar and that save prompted Aberdeen's revival which brought a splendid equaliser.

Chris Clark sidestepped Alex Rae and thrashed a venomously skidding 25-yard shot past Ronald Waterreus, but Rangers restored their advantage two minutes before the interval when Prso cutely back-heeled Nacho Novo's cross past Esson.

Prso helped himself to another just before the hour when Fernando Ricksen's corner was headed on by Marvin Andrews for the striker to score from close-range. "We need another slip from Celtic but we will put pressure on them," declared McLeish later. "The team played really well from start to finish."

He added: "Twists and turns is a phrase that has been used a few times in the last few weeks and we hope obviously there are more. If we play to that level then we have a chance of winning our last three games but it won't be easy.

"The players at this club were already motivated, as they should be, but certainly there was a wee edge after the Celtic result.

"This leaves us two points behind with three games to go. I said last week when we lost to Celtic that we can only do our best to win the four games and apply as much pressure as possible."

Goals: Ferguson (10) 0-1; Clark (33) 1-1; Prso (43) 1-2; Prso (59) 1-3.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Esson; McNaughton, Diamond, Anderson, Byrne (Hart, h-t); Clark, Heikkinen, Severin, Muirhead (Dempsey, 71); Whelan (Blaha, 62), Mackie. Substitutes not used: Preece (gk), Stewart, Winter, Considine.

Rangers (4-4-2): Waterreus; Ricksen, Andrews, Kyrgiakos, Ross; Buffel, Ferguson, Rae, Lovenkrands (Arveladze, 69); Novo, Prso (Thompson, 88). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), McGregor, Burke, McCormack, Malcolm.

Referee: H Dallas.

Booked: Aberdeen Diamond, Severin

Man of the match: Prso.

Attendance: 17,198.

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