The state of the Ibrox crowd yesterday veered from manic edginess to borderline paralysis before Filip Sebo brought ecstatic relief with a last-gasp winner.
Rangers created bags of chances, but for 89 minutes they were fluffed, saved or narrowly off target. An eerie, fearful quiet, especially in the second half, felt like the fans were waiting for confirmation of dreadful news, perhaps something like: "Ha! You're stuck in last season, again, and your managerial saviour is actually a dud." It was against that backdrop that substitute Sebo, a stocky striker - blessed with pace and muscle if not height - made his impact. Just as all seemed lost and another season looked to be slipping into the abyss, he snatched victory with less than 90 seconds left.
Rangers stay in third place in the Scottish Premier League and remain only seven points behind the leaders, Celtic, and four behind second-placed Hearts. For much of yesterday afternoon, it seemed likely Rangers would fall nine points off the title pace, and suffer a corresponding dent in confidence.
Instead, they secured a vital three points from hoodoo opposition who twice beat them and twice more held them last season. Maybe, just maybe, this could be Rangers' platform for the winning run their new manager, Paul Le Guen, so craves.
Celtic also stole a late victory yesterday, winning at Falkirk by a single goal from Aiden McGeady, while Hearts crushed Dundee United 4-0.
Sebo bagged his goal - his first at Ibrox since his summer move from Austria Vienna - after Thomas Buffel's shot was blocked. The ball fell to Sebo in a crowded penalty area and the Slovakian frontman found a way through to smash home. "Relief, relief," was how Le Guen explained why he had celebrated with such unrestrained joy. "I was just so happy for my players. It was getting frustrating, having so many chances. I believed my players had to be rewarded. So when they got the reward they deserved, I was happy."
Sebo rightly termed his own goal celebration as "explosive". Before the ball even hit the net, he charged to one corner of the ground, leapt the hoardings and embraced a group of fans holding a Slovakia flag before being engulfed by team-mates.
Before that, Rangers had 12 shots on goal to Aberdeen's two, with the visitors' Chris Clark hitting the post just before Rangers scored. Otherwise Buffel saw multiple efforts thwarted, saved or go wide. Libor Sionko headed over in the first half and missed from 10 yards in the second. Charlie Adam's first-half drive was wide, Barry Ferguson had a header saved and Dado Prso a penalty claim turned down. Adam then chipped over, and another drive went wide. And so on, until Sebo put everyone out of their misery.
Goal: Sebo (89) 1-0.
Rangers (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Bardsley, Rodriguez, Papac Smith; Ferguson, Hemdani; Sionko (Boyd, 57), Buffel, Adam (Sebo, 78); Prso (Martin, 68). Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Rae, Svensson, Sebo, N'Diaye.
Aberdeen (4-4-2) Langfield; Foster, Anderson (Diamond, 56), Hart, Considine; Nicholson, Dempsey, Severin, Clark; Miller, Mackie (Daal, 65). Substitutes not used: Soutar (gk), Smith, Winter, Donald, Maguire.
Referee: C Richmond.
Booked: Rodriguez, Considine, Hart. Man of the match: Buffel.
Attendance: 50,488.Reuse content