Aberdeen 1-0 Rangers: Steven Gerrard’s men go down to a spirited home side
Just after their fierce rivals Celtic were celebrating reaching a 5th consecutive domestic cup final, a Lewis Ferguson header for Aberdeen resigned Rangers to an unwanted 5th domestic cup semi-final defeat in a row.
They came into the game as strong favourites with their fans dominating the Hampden attendance but they had to watch their side prove superior to the Dons for large periods of the game, only to succumb to a late winner.
Aberdeen did, however, start proceedings strongly with two good chances by Niall McGinn. At first, he watched his fierce free-kick get tipped out for a corner by Allan McGregor. He should have done much better with a clear sight of the goal but struck his shot over the crossbar from inside the penalty box.
Concern has grown in recent seasons that Aberdeen, under manager Derek McInnes, have struggled to win the big games and passing up these golden early chances wouldn’t have done anything to dissuade this opinion.
Rangers then began to exert control but their lack of firepower up front proved costly. Missing key forwards Kyle Lafferty and Alfredo Morelos meant a first start for Umar Sadiq and Rangers ended the game with one solitary shot on target.
The game was far from a classic with both teams understandably nervous and cautious. With 11 minutes from time, against the run of the play, midfielder Ferguson rose highest to smash a header from McGinn’s corner into the net. Ironically, the nephew of Rangers legend Barry Ferguson wheeled away in clear delight as he was mobbed by his teammates celebrating this unlikely goal.
Steven Gerrard’s men ramped up the pressure on the Aberdeen goal but no equalizer was forthcoming. Goalkeeper Joe Lewis wasn’t threatened and Gerrard was left to rue his team’s poor conviction with their final ball.
The final whistle meant Aberdeen progressed to their 4th domestic cup final under McInnes’s tutelage but his side will have to improve their mentality against Celtic, who beat them in both domestic cup finals in 2016/2017.
A much larger fan base will certainly follow them down to Glasgow for December’s final and their backing will be needed.