Rangers fail to convince

Aberdeen 0 Rangers 1
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The Independent Online

Aberdeen 0 Rangers 1

Rangers re-established their three-point lead at the top of the Premier Division with a deserved if unimpressive win against a predictable Aberdeen yesterday.

Rangers won despite the absence of a recognised striker - the only goal came from a Paul Gascoigne penalty - and if there has been a welcoming response in the East End of Glasgow to Celtic's signing of Jorge Cadete, the Portuguese striker, at the weekend, observers will be curious to discover if Rangers are to respond with a move into the transfer market.

David Murray, the Rangers chairman, has admitted the need for a striker, and already Mikkel Beck and Eric Bo Anderson have been linked with the Glasgow side. Even so, Walter Smith, the club's manager, might be forgiven for staying his hand as his side have scored more goals than any other in the United Kingdom.

The celebrations at Pittodrie after the game gave evidence of Rangers' delight at having overcome a potentially dangerous hurdle, yet they might have won more convincingly.

The skills of Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup always threatened to put the points beyond the reach of the home side, who failed to recover from the loss of Stewart McKimmie in the 22nd minute. Stephen Glass, filling in at full-back, was subsequently unable to exert any forward impetus on the Aberdeen attack.

In the 31st minute, Rangers scored the goal that was to win the game. Laudrup was up- ended in the penalty area by Brian Irvine, and Gascoigne sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the resultant penalty.

There followed a no-frills performance from the Rangers defence and midfield as the long ball enabled the pace of Laudrup to stretch the home defence. Rangers' claims for a second penalty were waved aside in the 69th minute after Laudrup appeared to have been fouled by Gary Smith and three minutes later Gascoigne engineered an incredible miss.

Laudrup attempted to round the Aberdeen goalkeeper, but when his progress was blocked the ball fell to the feet of Gascoigne yet, with just a defender on the line to beat, the Englishman failed to control the ball, allowing it to dribble out of play.

Aberdeen's final opportunity saw John Brown nod the ball clear from a Dean Windass header. The final whistle was greeted with delight by Rangers, who now have their sights firmly set on the Old Firm game on 15 May.

Goal: Gascoigne (pen 32) 0-1.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Watt; Grant, Irvine, Smith, McKimmie (Booth, 22); Miller, Bernard, Windass, Glass; Shearer, Dodds. Substitutes not used: Inglis, Snelders (gk).

Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Petric, McLaren, Brown; Moore, McCall, Gascoigne (Van Vossen, 84), Miller, Robertson; Ferguson (Cleland, 90), Laudrup. Substitute not used: McCoist.

Bookings: Aberdeen: Grant, Smith, Dodds, Bernard. Rangers: Moore, Robertson, Miller, Gascoigne, Ferguson.

Man of the match: Gascoigne.

Referee: H Dallas (Bonkle). Attendance: 21,000.