The matches between Aberdeen and Rangers rarely pass without incident. Sunday’s lunchtime 1-1 draw in the Scottish Cup quarter-final was no different. A first-half Sam Cosgrove penalty gave the hosts a half-time lead. However, a Joe Worrall strike at the start of the second period earned Rangers a second crack at the tie at Ibrox.
With the draw for the semis having already been made, the carrot for both sets of players is the chance to knock Celtic out and put a dent in their recent domestic dominance.
Rangers are consistently inconsistent
Usually, you can tell within the first 15 minutes how the Rangers performance is going to look. The opening ten minutes from a Rangers point of view was shambolic at times. Aberdeen went man-for-man in midfield, and Rangers couldn’t get anything going to cut them open like they did in the 4-2 fixture in the league. Instead, it was slow, sloppy and they couldn’t get going. What made it worse was Aberdeen could sit back in their shape after scoring the penalty and in truth, it was more of the same, like St. Johnstone and others were Gerrard’s men couldn’t find ways to break a well-organised defence down.
It was in keeping with the inconsistency that Rangers would perform better in the second half. It was better but still not to the standard Rangers should be aspiring to reach. After the goal, there were a good few times where Rangers could do what they are good at: countering at pace, with Candeias and Kent in the wide areas. Scott Arfield had the best chance from those situations. However, had certain passes from Kent and runs from Candeias and Morelos been a little more thought out, I doubt there would have been a replay as Rangers would have gone on and won the game.
No subs: Steven Gerrard happy with the replay?
It was an interesting afternoon for Gerrard. He didn’t use his bench once. The only changes he made was with the players already on the field. Arfield pushed closer to Morelos in the second half, playing like a second striker, the midfielders would drop deep and wide, allowing the defenders to try and play long balls to the attackers in the build-up phase.
This was strange given Aberdeen’s aerial prowess. However, looking back on that first-half performance and his post-match comments about the pitch and conditions, it seemed the Gerrard was happy to take another crack at the tie at Ibrox. Perhaps he was hesitant to go and remove Morelos or bring Defoe on for another midfielder in case it backfired, but that vibe w got was that he was happy to get out of there unscathed and try again.
Joe Worrall proving doubters wrong
Without doubt Joe Worrall’s best game in a Rangers shirt. Even without the goal to his name, he was Rangers’ best player on the day. He had to bail Connor Goldson out on a few occasions. He defended well all day and showed great leadership as his partner didn’t have his best afternoon. And of course, his goal was a striker’s finish from the towering defender, which ultimately kept Rangers in the cup. He deserves credit for the way he’s bounced back from his mistake at Rugby Park and since then, he’s been nothing but solid.