Rangers managed a late surge of purpose, of urgency, of desperation even, but they were still left only with a sense of regret. They had toiled for so long that chasing a winning goal was beyond them, and they succumbed again to the lack of enterprise and adventure that has seen Celtic overtake them at the top of the League.
The Ibrox side are now four points behind their old rivals, and the lack of dynamism that has troubled them seems entrenched. Aberdeen set out to be obdurate, and Rangers were unable to pick their way through. Even when they found a clear sight of goal in the closing stages, Jason Brown was capable ofbeing heroic.
The Aberdeen goalkeeper defied Sone Aluko's volley with a diving, one-handed save, then he held Carlos Bocanegra's header on the goalline. By then, Rangers knew that the win was beyond them, and they could only rue their failure to be bold or slick enough. When they needed to chase the game, after Kari Arnason's curling shot from 20 yards evaded Allan McGregor, Ally McCoist sent on Salim Kerkar up front.
The Algerian has been a marginal player, but was the only option the manager had to replace the ineffective David Healy. The prospect of Nikica Jelavic leaving for West Ham, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers or Liverpool must torment McCoist.
Rangers forced an equaliser through sheer tenacity within four minutes when Maurice Edu's shot spun off Arnason's thigh and past Brown. The goal briefly roused the home crowd, but the players could not claim the outcome they needed.
"Frustrating," said McCoist. "We created enough chances, but we're short on goals. I know what we need [to sign] and hopefully we can get it sorted."
Rangers (4-4-2):McGregor; Bartley, Goian, Bocanegra, Papac; Aluko, Davis, Edu, Wallace (Kerkar, 65); Healy (Wylde, 65), Jelavic.
Aberdeen (4-3-3): Brown; Jack, McArdle, Reynolds, Robertson; Fyvie, Arnason, Clark; Vernon, Fallon (Mackie, 75), Magennis.
Referee: Iain Brines.
Man of the match: Arnason (Aberdeen)
Match rating: 5/10Reuse content