Mols makes his mark to rouse Rangers

Rangers 2 Aberdeen 1

Phil Gordon
Sunday 02 February 2003 01:00

Michael Mols protected Rangers' advantage at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a poacher's double that negated Aberdeen's courageous display.

Had the Dutch striker not restored Rangers' lead from close range with 13 minutes left, the leaders could have dropped vital points to a team who were given a standing ovation by the raucous visiting supporters.

Aberdeen have not won at Ibrox since 1991 and, even though Steve Paterson had made his reputation by famously winning across the city at Celtic with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, there seemed little chance that the Dons' new manager could alter the wretched record of his predecessors.

However, there was clearly a change in philosophy. The timid approach fashioned by Ebbe Skovdahl was abandoned, as Chris Clark showed after just two minutes with an ambitious run from his own half, drifting past two tackles before firing a shot just wide.

Rangers accepted the challenge and Mols ought to have scored six minutes later when Neil McCann's cross picked him out, but the striker's tame header was saved by David Preece. The visitors' goalkeeper eclipsed that stop soon afterwards when Mols raced clear to beat the offside trap, but Preece narrowed the angle and then saved at the Dutchman's feet.

Mols' compatriot, Ronald de Boer, came even closer to breaking the deadlock. The former Barcelona player showed great skill in the 25th minute as he moved across the edge of the area before checking back on to his right foot and striking a curling shot that thumped off a post.

However, any notion that Aberdeen were content to reprise their role of whipping boys here was curtailed by an adventurous three-minute spell in which they had two excellent chances to take the lead. Stefan Klos beat out a ferocious 25-yard shot from Steve Tosh, and then the goalkeeper reacted as Darren Mackie stabbed the rebound towards goal, turning it aside with an alert parry.

Just after the half-hour, Aberdeen should have gone ahead when Clark's cut-back picked out Mackie, who was about to finish off the move when Leon Knight took it off his toes with a volley that flew over the bar.

Then Mols made Rangers' breakthrough in the 37th minute. The striker got across his marker to meet a cross from Arthur Numan and his header bounced down into the turf and up over Clark, who was guarding the line.

De Boer could have doubled Rangers' lead early in the second half after another exquisite turn created the space for a 25-yard shot that Preece superbly pushed wide. However, Aberdeen grew in confidence and they created several clear chances before Tosh equalised with a fine goal in the 74th minute.

Both Clark and Leon Mike squandered chances with just Klos to beat but Tosh showed his team-mates the meaning of composure when he ended intense pressure by cutting in from the wing and curling a delicate left-foot shot into the far corner of the net.

But before Aberdeen could savour parity, Mols restored Rangers' lead two minutes later, profiting from a nutmeg by Claudio Caniggia on Russell Anderson. The Argentinian's pass across the face of the area was finished off by a side-foot from Mols.

Rangers 2
Mols 37, 77

Aberdeen 1
Tosh 75

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 49,667

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